“Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish or the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Genesis 1:28 NKJV
[Thought questions for Stewardship and the Environment March 6, 2013]
1. The environment. Is caring for the environment a Seventh-day Adventist objective? If not, why not? If yes, how good a job are we doing? Do professional environmentalists sometimes rub us the wrong way? Have you or someone you know ever had your property devalued because it was on or near land needed by certain wild creatures? What happens to the quality of life in regions of the earth where the environment is left to its own devisings? Is that God’s plan?
2. Responsible since creation. Weren’t the creatures and plant life created the first week able to survive on their own? Why did God ask Adam to rule over the natural world even before sin? What was included in Adam’s work of stewardship? Did Adam consider this assignment a heavy load of work at first? What did it involve? How has the job of environmental caretaker changed in the centuries since Adam and Eve had to leave the garden?
3. Animals. What do you consider to be the most significant difference between animals and man? Is your favorite pet as intelligent as you are? Does your canary or wolfhound show love and affection to you? In what way is that love limited? Does a loving kitten or obedient puppy understand God’s love? Where I live it’s common for people who decide they don’t want to keep a dog any longer to drive up in the hills, dump the dog by the wayside and take off at a high speed. What does that say about the person who abandons a pet like that?
4. Sabbath. What does the Sabbath have to do with the environment? Explain the difference between these two extremes: (1) loving nature so much that we ignore other aspects of life and (2) exploiting nature whether we’re damaging it or not. Is it possible to worship nature even in these modern times? In what ways is the Sabbath a perpetual observance of Creation week? In what ways can we appreciate creation and the beauty of nature we can still see on the Sabbath day?
5. Health. How do we know that God wants us to take good care of our bodies? Or is His wish mainly for us to enjoy life and do what we feel is right? How does the health of our bodies and brains affect our life with God from day to day? Why is it so easy to give in to habits that are dangerous to our health? Are drinking and smoking the only enemies of our health we need to oppose? What are some others? What about mental health? Are there specific actions we can take to increase our happiness as well as our good health? How long should we wait to put them to work?
6. Stewardship. What used to be the responsibility of the church’s stewardship secretary? When you hear, “stewardship report,” what do you expect to learn? Do you ever pray for God’s guidance to lead you to be a better steward of the gifts and blessings he has entrusted to you? If not, why not? Are there ways that your local church could encourage its members to give more of their talents to the work of the church? What does your church do to involve new members in the church’s ministry?
7. In conclusion. What can you or your Sabbath school class do as a special project for your local environment? Might such a project present opportunities to make friends with Christians from other churches? What about participating in clean-up, fix-up, and make-beautiful projects in your community? Or should we be careful about making friends with people not in our church? Think about it.