This post is part of a synchroblog on Loving Nature: "Is God Green?"
Long before being green was a thing, my family was.
My parents have always driven highly fuel efficient cars. They rarely run their air conditioning. In the winter, their heat is always set low. They turn off lights they're not using. They recycle.
Granted, their tendencies toward being green are partly driven by economics. But they're also driven by their love and respect for the environment.
My parents live across the street from a forest preserve. My mom has often commented how thankful she is that people years ago had the foresight to reserve these green spaces in the midst of city life.
Through all of this, my parents instilled in me a deep love and care for the environment.
Because I care about the environment, my husband and I intentionally live in a community that provides easy access to public transportation. I regularly walk or bike to work. When we have to drive, we drive a Prius. We garden and compost. We recycle as much as we possibly can.
Because we love nature, we also intentionally vacation in places known for it. We've walked on glaciers in both Alaska and New Zealand, tramped across the Milford Track in New Zealand, camped in Haleakala in Maui, and explored the Canadian Rockies. Nearly every day, I walk in our local arboretum.
Being in nature is, for me, a spiritual practice.
I relate most to God as creator. As a result, nature both connects me to and reveals God. As Romans 1:20 suggests, “Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.”
A bear reveals God's majesty; A moose his humor. Glaciers reveal his power; Mountains, his wonder.
Three years ago, while on a mission trip to Rwanda, our team went on safari. At one point, we stood in silence next to our jeeps, in awe of the fact that a few hundred yards away, giraffe's grazed. Moments later, the diversity of the wildlife reminded us of God's intelligence and of the intricate ways in which our ecosystem is undoubtedly connected.
So is God green?
Yes, I think he is.
How can a God who called each aspect of his creation good not be green?
Yet, in light of the work I do with youth, I can't help but wonder, is this even the right question?
Certainly, it's one that older Christians – especially those in evangelical circles – ask. But I can assure you, it's not the one our youth ask. They know God is green. They believe he has entrusted them with the job of caring for and protecting his creation.
I think that's why, every single year, when my student leaders brainstorm what topics to cover in our weekly gatherings, the environment and animals always come out on top. For them, creation care is not separate from their faith, but an integral part of it; A tangible expression of how their faith impacts their daily life.
So for youth, the question is no longer, Is God green? It's Is the church green?
And if youth can't answer yes to this question, they want no part of the church.
After all, how can a church that doesn't care for the environment represent a God who does?