The whole planet's going to burn so what does it matter how we treat it? This sentiment is thrown around by many Christians. It comes out in demanding plastic straws or refusing to recycle. For myself, I lamented losing free plastic bags because I'm a penny-pincher. I want free bags for my groceries that I can use as free bags for my trash.
The problem is that our view of the physical affects our view of the spiritual. And this has gospel implications. Our view of our planet today affects our view of where we're off to in the ever-after—that very physical place called The City of the Living God. How we view our physical surroundings now and how we employ the resources God has entrusted to our stewardship affects our understanding of where we came from: Eden, The Garden of God.
The very first commandment God gave to man in the garden was spiritual and it was physical: "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth" (Gen 1:28).
Is God’s kingdom physical or spiritual? Both. Christ rules over our molecules and our souls. He's king over spirits and trees.
Then what's the relationship between our earthly existence and our heavenly one? When we're united to Christ in salvation, we instantly become citizens of the kingdom of God. That kingdom is at hand already (Mark 1:15) though we await its fullest experience.
The new heavens and the new earth will be like going back in time to Eden. We will inhabit a physical kingdom that we steward, interact with, and care for as we cultivate its resources to share with neighbors and bring God glory. We will walk with God in the garden, and our spiritual worship will come from physical work as physical beings.
What we were called to do in the beginning, God will fulfill in us at the end. The question is, can we put off living like kingdom citizens until glory? No. Beloved, it’s not necessarily about straws and bags. Stewardship, and our attitude toward it, is the problem. The kingdom is now. Let's live like it.