There is much debate in churches about whether Christians should be involved in activism to preserve the environment. But nature is not only a crisis we have to manage. It is much more, and it can play an important role in our spiritual life.
We’re not into nature anymore
These days many people live in urban areas, where they live mostly indoors. And even outside there is not much nature to be seen. This does not only affect our mental wellbeing, but also our spiritual life. So why is nature important for our spiritual health?
Nature points to God’s greatness
First of all, in nature God reveals Himself. My children grew up in big cities and never saw stars because there was always too much light. When we moved to the countryside, we really enjoyed seeing the stars. Knowing how far they are from us, and seeing the vastness of our galaxy, makes you want to worship the Creator. You can see His power and His greatness, and yet He knows all His children on this tiny planet by name. In Psalm 8:3-4 we read:
“When I consider Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which You have set in place,
what is mankind that You are mindful of them,
human beings that You care for them?”
Every detail shows God’s finger
But not only the big things speak of God’s greatness. When you take time to really be in nature, and look closely at the things around you like flowers, insects, birds and frogs, you can see with how much love and wisdom every little detail is designed. God put so much beauty and joy in His world. Even though the brokenness of sin has affected nature too, there is still so much that reflects who He is and how much He cares.
Creation praises God
Nature tells a story, but we must be quiet and pay attention in order to hear it. Psalm 19:1-4 says:
“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
Creation worships the Creator. Plants and animals, streams and oceans and mountains – by being what they are they honour the one who made them. If you listen well, you can hear a great chorus of praise rise from nature. Psalm 65:12-13 says:
“The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing.”
Nature restores a healthy perspective
Being in nature restores a healthy perspective on ourselves. It is easy for humans to think they are important and in control. But nature reminds us that we are part of what was created. The laws of nature govern us too. We cannot control it. We are very small and vulnerable. And we are dependent on God for everything. If the rain does not come, we do not eat. If the sun does not shine, we cannot live. But both of these are out of our control.
Nature shows a caring God
Still, nature reminds us that God cares. Jesus Himself used the example of the flowers and the birds, to calm our worries. If God feeds the birds and clothes the flowers, will He not take care of us? (Matthew 6:25-30)
In nature God can come closer to you
Lastly, nature makes us quiet and helps us to hear God Himself speak to us. Many people find it is much easier to pray when walking in a forest or sitting at the seaside. Jesus Himself went into the mountains to pray. Away from the crowds, into the quiet, alone with His Father. Our lives are full of noise and distractions. Why not try to find a place in nature, leave your phone, bring your Bible and ask God to speak to your heart? Or just be there, listen to the praise that rises from creation – and join in and worship!