Christians should embrace recyclingPublished 12:03am Sunday, July 14, 2013
By now Natchez residents should have received their new trash cans and recycling bins from Waste Pro (ours came Thursday), and that means we’re fast approaching the launch date for Natchez’s new curbside recycling program which will kick off at the end of the month. Ever since this was first announced, however, some folks have made it clear that they’re not very excited about the prospect. These “green” people, they say, need to quit pushing their religion on us.
Now it’s true that occasionally you’ll meet someone whose attitude towards the earth might strike you as pretty bizarre or off-putting. But, frankly, the first “religion” that comes to mind when I hear about recycling is Christianity. A Christian faith that’s rooted in the scriptures has to give serious consideration to God’s planet. In Genesis God creates the earth to put forth vegetation: “plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good” (1:12). The Lord intended the world to be lush and fruitful — that’s a good thing. In the Psalms we learn more: that God cares for the world like a gardener, planting and watering the trees (104:13, 16); that the fields and trees sing for joy before their Lord (96:11-13; 148:9). In the New Testament we read that all things on earth were created by Christ and for Christ and that the peace we have with God through Jesus extends past us to touch everything on the earth (Col 1:16, 20) — in fact, the creation is eagerly awaiting the day when it will be set free from the decay sin unleashed on the world (Rom 8:19-25). Not only did God make the world, not only does he tend to it now, but he has plans for its future! And if you’re a Christian, that’s your “religion” we’re talking about.
So maybe, instead of dismissing this recycling initiative as someone ‘pushing their religion on us’, Christians in the Miss-Lou should think about how we can treat the world like God’s garden, like something that the Lord called good, something that offers praise back to its Maker. And if God has plans for the earth’s future, maybe we should make plans for the future, too. And the simple act of recycling — made even easier with this new curbside service! — can have a huge effect on that future. “In the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
For a brief, to-the-point discussion of some of the benefits of recycling, try Googling “5 Important Reasons Why Louisiana Should Recycle” for an article on the Louisiana DEQ website. If you want to keep exploring this idea that God cares about the planet and how we treat it, Jonathan Merritt’s fun and informative book Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet may be a great place to start.
Don’t forget to follow the instructions included with your shiny new recycle bin about to-dos and to-don’ts (no glass, plastic bags, or Styrofoam; don’t let paper get wet; etc.)! You can also find these online at MissLouRecycles.com.
Nance Hixon is pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Natchez.