Examining Waste: What Does Our Garbage Say About Our Love for God?

While we may not often think of such matters, for Christians who seek to glorify God in all aspects of life, the garbage bag asks us a few important questions.

What does the waste I dispose say about my love for God’s creation?

The world is not something that entirely belongs to us. The Word of God does say that the world belongs to us (Ps 115: 16). But elsewhere we are also told that the world belongs to the Lord (Ps- 24: 1). The balanced Biblical answer is that God has given the earth for us to steward. As John Stott says, we are only “tenants;” God himself remains (in the most literal sense) the “landlord”, the Lord of all the land. (Issues Facing Christians Today, p146)

If we are entrusted with the responsibility to steward God’s creation, how conscious are we of such a charge? Does the waste I dispose and the manner in which I dispose of it show me acting in a manner that is true to this charge of stewardship?

What does the waste I dispose say about my love for God’s people?

In many Indian cities (like in Bangalore where I live), management of waste is a serious concern. The most common way to deal with garbage is to dump them in public land-fills. However, these land-fills tend to cause a number of challenges for the people who live in and around the area. From polluting the ground water to emitting inflammable methane into the air, land-fills cause a number of problems

Although it is easy for us to criticise the Government authorities for such mismanagement, it might be more loving on our part to do what we can by reducing the waste that goes to such land-fills. From reducing our consumption (so waste is also reduced) to taking other steps such as recycling or having composts at home to process waste, we can love our neighbours.

What does my garbage bag say about my love for God Himself?

The garbage we produce is an indication of what we consume.

If we have large garbage bags, it is perhaps an indication that we are consuming a lot. How intentional are we with what we purchase and use? One look at my garbage bag could probably tell me a lot about what I treasure and prize.

There are certainly ways in which we can use modern products and comforts to serve God and love our neighbour. But it is also possible that we end up buying things purely because we are able to.

John Piper, in his book, “Don’t Waste Your Life” encourages Christians to have a wartime mentality. During the war, Americans were encouraged to use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. It is important for us to ask ourselves if perhaps we tend to drift into the peacetime mentality of constantly buying new things.

As Piper writes,

Given the vulnerability of my heart to the seduction of the peacetime mind-set, which is pushed into my mind every day by media and entertainment, I need these images and these reminders. We are at war, whether the stocks are falling or climbing, whether the terrorists are hitting or hiding, whether we are healthy or sick. Both pleasure and pain are laced with poison, ready to kill us with the diseases of pride or despair. The repeated biblical warning to “be alert” fits the wartime image. And I need this warning every day.

John Piper (Don’t Waste Your Life, p113)

Perhaps my garbage bag can be another of these reminders, repeatedly asking me the question, “Am I being alert?”

Being Indian and Christian

Being Indian and Christian is my weekly newsletter in which I try to understand the world (popular culture or news and events from India or around the world) from a Christian worldview. If that’s something you’re interested in, I’d be honoured if you signed up!

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  1. Pingback: Addressing The Stray Dog Menace with Justice and Compassion – Jeyapaul Caleb

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