Have you confessed your sins to plants lately? That’s exactly what students at Union Theological Seminary in New York did a couple weeks ago. They prayed to a display of plants set up in the school chapel. The seminary later explained on Twitter: “Today in chapel, we confessed to plants. Together, we held our grief, joy, regret, hope, guilt and sorrow in prayer; offering them to the beings who sustain us but whose gift we too often fail to honor. What do you confess to the plants in your life?” So, have you confessed your sins to plants lately?
If this surprises you, these students do have a point. Our sins have had a tremendous negative impact on the plants and nature around us. The Bible itself says so. In the book of Romans, Paul writes, “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:22). Adam and Eve’s sin didn’t just affect people. Sin has affected the whole world, including nature. Our human sins have put all of creation through a lot of pain.
Where I live, signs along the Fox River say, “Don’t eat the fish!” There wasn’t a need for signs like that in the Garden of Eden. Our city of Green Bay is right on a big bay, but there isn’t even a beach. The water is too polluted. We haven’t taken very good care of the world God has made. It’s a sad irony that often we Christians who emphasize that God created the world are slow to care for and protect the beautiful world God has created. God wants us to love his creation. Our sins have a big impact on plants. We do need to confess our sins.
Just not to plants. As our world falls away from the true God, it finds other gods. Sadly, for many people, their “god” has become nature around us. Paul wrote about that in Romans too, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised” (Romans 1:25). It’s foolish to worship created things instead for our Creator God. “Mother Nature” is sadly replacing our “Heavenly Father.” Plants don’t sustain us. God does! Our sins aren’t against plants. Our sins are against God who created us.
So let’s confess our sins. Not to plants, but to Jesus. In our worship services lately, we’ve been using this verse: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). Jesus has done something no plant can ever do. He’s forgiven us for every sin! Jesus has even made a new creation for us in heaven, complete with rivers and trees (see Revelation 22). Dear Christian, put your trust in Jesus, and then care for everything Jesus has made, including plants.