People have a connection with the environment. This is obvious. We live on the earth, therefore we are connected to it. What happens in nature affects us (just look at the flooding in South Carolina) and what we do has an effect on nature (remember Exxon Valdez?). This link was written about in Genesis 3, when after the Fall of humans part of the curse involved the land. God said to Adam in Genesis 3:17-18, “…cursed is the fertile land because of you; in pain you will eat from it every day of your life. Weeds and thistles will grow for you, even as you eat the field’s plants…”
This is not a one-time relationship established between people and environment, though. In Hosea God makes the link between people’s actions and the state of the environment:
Hear the Lord’s word,
people of Israel;
for the Lord has a dispute
with the inhabitants of the land.
There’s no faithful love or loyalty,
and no knowledge of God in the land.
2 Swearing, lying, murder,
together with stealing and adultery are common;
bloody crime followed by bloody crime.
3 Therefore, the earth itself becomes sick,
and all who live on it grow weak;
together with the wild animals
and the birds in the sky,
even the fish of the sea are dying.
Because the people are living in a state of rebellion against God, even the land and animals are suffering. The people’s sins are disrupting the entire world around them. Please note, as well, these are not sins of exploitation of natural resources or pollution (although those are sins as well), but these are intensely personal sins. They are committed by individuals upon other individuals, and yet the earth is sick because of them.
If we would like to see the earth healed, we ourselves need to be healed of our sins. There are no private or personal sins that do not affect others, as this passage shows. All sin has effects on the world around us. Only when we are healed of our sins will we see nature thrive once again. In Christ all things are made new, and that includes us as well as creation, but creation will not be renewed if we are not.