Dan Serns

Ministerial Director, North Pacific Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists

Summary: The writer talks about how the Creator, Owner, Sustainer, and Provider has placed in His word all that is needed to understand how to live a balanced, earth friendly lifestyle.

I was sitting at the breakfast table reflecting on the day ahead when the back of the cereal box grabbed my attention. “Save the World” the big headlines shouted.

“That’s my mission” I almost said out loud. Between spoonfuls I began reflecting. “That’s why Jesus came to this earth. As His followers our mission is to cooperate with Him in saving the world. This cereal box has reminded me of what is really important for me to do today.”

Then I noticed the next sentence. “Save the World…One tree at a time.” What? Shouldn’t it say “Save the World…One person at a time”?

Is our mission as Adventists to save people or to save trees? Or are both included in our mission? What position should we as Adventists take in the growing debate about the environment?

As Seventh-day Adventists we issued a brief “Statement on the Environment” in 1995. And recently there have been articles in the Adventist Review that address this subject. But our ultimate source for God’s wisdom is, of course, the Bible.

Twelve Bible Truths About the Environment

1.God is the Creator and Owner of this earth.

2.Mankind has a clear God-given role in relating to the earth.

3.God loves the animals He has created.

4.God provided trees, flowers, and vegetation for both beauty and usefulness.

5.God gives counsel on the use of His land and its jewels and minerals.

6.The weekly Sabbath is God’s gift to mankind to remind us of Himself, His creation and His re-creative powers.

7.All God’s creation is interdependent, but God’s word recognizes a priority of value among the parts of creation.

8.Sin has caused a breakdown in all environmental relationships.

9.Jesus has provided redemption and reconciliation for all creation.

10. Jesus is the Sustainer of all creation and the Provider for all our needs.

11. God’s final message reminds us of God’s control of nature.

12. Sin, rather than earth, is the target of God’s destruction and God, not mankind, decides when and how to destroy.

Why Not Become More Earth Friendly?

Try These Twelve Practical Steps

Here are twelve practical steps an Adventist can take to be more earth friendly that are in harmony with our Fundamental Beliefs and counsel we have been given as a church.

1. Do an intensive Bible study on God and His creation.

a. How is this earth friendly? The foundation for all decisions in life for a Christ-follower is “What would please Jesus?” and “What does the Bible say?” Studying God’s word in a humble and teachable way on any subject allows the Holy Spirit to reprogram our thinking so it reflects the thoughts, ideas and attitudes of heaven. The Creator, Owner, Sustainer, and Provider has placed in His word all that is needed to understand how to live a balanced, earth friendly lifestyle.

b. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #1Holy Scriptures.

c. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Read Genesis 1:1-2:3 and imagine your were there at creation.

ii. Read Revelation 21-22 and picture what it will be like in the New Jerusalem.

iii.Read Genesis 3 and make a list of how earth changed as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve.

iv. Read Job 38-41 and list all things from nature described in the passage that you have personally observed.

v. Circle ten Proverbs that refer to nature.

vi. Read one chapter in Proverbs then go out and reflect on something in nature it refers to.

vii. Reflect on one passage and what it says about man’s relationship to His Creator, other creatures and God’s creation.

viii. Pick one of the “Twelve Bible Truths about the Environment” and read the related Bible passages.

2. Move closer to nature or bring nature closer to you.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #6Creation.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Take a day hike.

ii. Plan a camping trip soon.

iii. Grow a garden.

iv. Add plants and flowers around the house.

v. Plan to build a natural shelter and re-enact the Feast of Tabernacles.

3. Eat more unprocessed food.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #7 Nature of Man

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Eat three pieces of unprocessed fruit today.

ii. Clean out your refrigerator and pantry of anything that does not qualify as food according to the list in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

iii. Become familiar with the fresh produce section of your local grocery store.

iv. Decide to become a vegetarian if you are not already.

4. Become an expert in some area of nature study.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #8Great Controversy.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Take a nature walk and list evidences of sin that were probably not present in the perfect world God created in the beginning.

ii. Earn a Pathfinder Nature Study honor.

iii.Earn the Pathfinder “Naturalist Master” or “Conservation Master” Award.

5. Be reconciled to your Creator

a. How is this earth friendly? At the heart of all good earth care is a recognition of and a respect for the Creator. Once we are reconciled to God we begin to participate in the work of reconciliation with other human beings and with all creation. When we respect our Creator and His omnipotence, we are more inclined to live Godly lives that respect ourselves, others and God’s creation.

b. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #10The Experience of Salvation.

c. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Ask God right now to be in charge of every part of your life.

ii. Admit and confess your sins to God and thank Him for forgiving you and cleansing you of all unrighteousness.

iii.Commit yourself to getting to know your Creator better every day through Bible study, prayer, and surrender of your plans to His word.

6. Participate in a ministry for the homeless.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #11Growing in Christ.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Feed a hungry person.

ii. Take a food basket to someone who might need it.

iii.Volunteer at a soup kitchen.

iv. Write a donation check to a homeless shelter.

v. Read Patriarchs and Prophets Chapter 51 “God’s Care for the Poor” (pp 530-536).

7. Go on a mission trip.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief- #13 Remnant and Its Mission.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Give money to help someone else go, particularly a young person.

ii. Pray for God’s work in a specific country every day for thirty days.

iii. Read mission stories at www.adventistmission.org.

8. Wash the feet of someone you don’t get along with.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #16The Lords Supper.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Read Matthew 18:15-17 and list the steps Jesus gave us to reconcile with those who have wronged us.

ii. Read Christ’s Object Lessons Chapter 19 “The Measure of Forgiveness” (pp. 243-251).

iii. Call someone who you need to talk to but don’t feel like talking to.

iv. Write a note, letter or email to open communication and acknowledge a relationship problem with someone you don’t get along with.

v. Find out from the church office, elder or pastor when is the next scheduled communion service and determine to be there.

9. Remember every Sabbath to keep it holy.

a. How is this earth friendly? The Sabbath is a weekly reminder of the fact that God created the world and all nature in six days and rested the seventh. It is a God-given gift of rest from the fast pace of society so we can be refreshed. The Sabbath allows us time to be re-energized and to spend time out in the wonderful creation of God. Jesus spent His Sabbath mornings in Bible study, fellowship with others, and Sabbath afternoons in helping the poor and needy. All these activities take our minds away from mankind’s accomplishments and focus them on God’s accomplishments.

b. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #20—Sabbath

c. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Determine to not work on Sabbath unless it is to care for the sick and needy or provide protection or assistance in extreme emergency.

ii. Inform your boss that you are no longer available to work Friday sunset to Saturday sunset.

iii. Plan a Sabbath welcoming activity for your family to do as the sun sets this Friday.

iv. Memorize the Sabbath commandment found in Exodus 20:8-11.

v. Give any employees and/or animals the Sabbath free according to the Sabbath commandment.

vi. Plan a Sabbath afternoon activity of helping those in need or visiting someone sick or discouraged spiritually.

vii. Plan a Sabbath afternoon nature walk and activity.

10. Return tithe regularly and give offerings generously.

a. How is this earth friendly? Releasing the first ten percent of our income to the tithe fund we cannot control, and giving generous offerings, reminds us that the entire earth and everything in it belongs not to mankind but to God. It strikes at the root of greed and covetousness that is part of the human heart. It breaks us away from our self-centered exploitation of the world and the things and people in it. “God asks not only the tithe, but says we are to come to Him with tithes and offerings. Some will say that this was one of the rigorous laws binding upon the Hebrews; but it was not a burden to the willing heart that loved God. It is only when the selfish nature is made stronger by withholding that which God has given us that we might bless others, that we value earthly treasures above souls, above the blessings that are for the unselfish… Many have felt that the lot of Israel was hard because they were required to give the tithe and also make liberal offerings. An all-wise God knew what was best when He gave to His people the plan of systematic offerings. They found that when they tried to increase their possessions, by withholding from God their tithes and offerings, the effort was sure to be a failure…When we humbly use what God has given us for the honor of the Giver, we may feel at all times the peace and assurance that God's hand is over us for good; for the treasure which is used to advance the cause of God, and which is given to the needy in Christ's name, is given to Christ, and He lays it up for us in heaven. Then we grow rich. There is no danger of loss nor poverty when one has everlasting riches in heaven's bank. Covetousness is idolatry; and it was to aid us in keeping the commandments that God originated the plan for tithes and offerings.”

b. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #21Stewardship.

c. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Write a check for 10% of your most recent income and send it to your local church or conference tithe fund.

ii. Give an offering to help with church, conference, and world needs.

iii. Make a list of 100 things God owns.

iv. If you haven’t been returning tithe, confess this as a sin to God and ask for His forgiveness and strength to follow Him from this day forward.

11. Thin out your stuff.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #22Christian Behavior

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Sort one dresser drawer or closet section into four groups: Sell, Give Away, Throw Away or Keep.

ii. Give away something of value that you aren’t using?a used car, nice outfit, piece of furniture or equipment, etc.?to someone else who can use it now.

iii. For each new item of clothing you buy over the next three months give away two items of clothing.

iv. Walk a mile or two instead of going shopping.

v. Reduce the trash on the planet by going a week without buying anything unless it is essential to life.

vi. Pick up trash along a highway or path.

vii.Read the parable in Luke 12:15-21 and write a list of suggestions you would like to give to the rich fool. Then ask yourself what you would do if you received such a list of suggestions.

viii.Watch "The Story of Stuff" at www.storyofstuff.com/ and share it with someone else.

12. Be kind to animals.

a. Related Adventist Fundamental Belief #28New Earth.

b. What is a simple first step I can take today?

i. Sing a song about animals in family worship (e.g. “Animals, animals, Jesus made the animals”).

ii. Visit a zoo.

iii.Volunteer at a humane society.

iv.Take care of someone’s animal for a few days.

v. Read Isaiah 11:6-9 and talk with someone about how animals will be different in the new earth from how they are today.

Why not pick a step, even a small one, and take action today to become more earth friendly?

Seventh-day Adventist Fundamental Beliefs are found at www.adventist.org/beliefs/fundamental/index.html.