The statistics say that only 44% of us as evangelical Christians accept that climate change is real, and if you fall into the other 56% there could be several reasons why you may not believe in global warming or climate change.
Maybe you embrace a more conservative political ideology and think global warming is a liberal agenda. Or maybe you believe that God wouldn’t let climate change happen, or that the world is going to end anyway so it doesn’t really matter. I want you to know I understand. I really do. In fact, I used to believe pretty much exactly like you do.
I thought Global Warming was a myth, a liberal agenda. I thought protecting the planet was about hugging trees and saving whales and polar bears. To me “going green” was trendy and just a marketing scam used to push expensive “green” products. I believed it didn’t really matter what we did to the Earth because ultimately God was in control and anyway Christians were leaving this world behind and going to Heaven when they died, right?
And honestly? I just didn’t want to think about the impact and effects of my choices. I was perfectly fine with my comfortable and convenient lifestyle. I thought, “I am just one person, what kind of difference could I make anyway?”
So when you tell me you don’t really believe in global warming or climate change, or that you’re not really concerned about “going green” and think that creation care is for crazy crunchy Christians and not for you, I totally get it. Because I was in that same place until just a few years ago.
But then something happened that changed my perspective on this issue, and ultimately changed my life.
I came to the understanding that creation care isn’t about global warming, climate change, or even “going green” because it’s trendy. Creation care is about caring for God’s most valuable, and vulnerable, creation: His people. People, who are God’s image-bearers and His precious and loved children, are the ones most negatively impacted by the condition of the Earth.
And ultimately, this is not really about global warming or climate change anyway. We don’t need to “believe” in global warming or climate change to realize that creation care and environmental stewardship are extremely important. I think we should all be able to agree that the way we are using and abusing the resources of the earth are not sustainable. And that we are, indeed, trashing our planet and that our actions are having negative effects on our world and the people who live here.
The effects of climate change, both in the world today and increasingly in the future, include droughts, floods, heat waves, sea-level risings and stronger storms and contribute to food and water shortages, damage to farmland and infrastructure, and undermine economic development. These effects are felt most strongly in underdeveloped and impoverished countries by the already poor and vulnerable people who live there.
Climate change is having negative effects on real people right now in the world, and will continue to have even greater negative effects in the coming years. And when you begin to realize that this is not something made up, or a political agenda within this country, or a “money-maker”, it becomes harder for someone who follows Jesus to brush off it with, “I’m not really that concerned about it. That’s just not really my thing.”
Creation care is not about global warming, it is about loving people.
And when we’re honest about it, doesn’t Jesus both call and empower us to love our neighbor as ourselves? Doesn’t He say that’s the most important thing after loving Him? In fact, shouldn’t our love for Him compel us to serve the least of these?
Following Jesus is about loving and serving people, and creation care is about caring for people. Therefore those of us who say we love and follow Jesus need to be committed to caring for His creation!
Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience with accepting climate change while still following Jesus.
It will change your perspective, and hopefully also change your life.
For me, beginning to think about, and care about, climate change has moved my life in a direction that I never expected.
When you begin to think about the effects of your actions, and the similar actions of all of the people around you, on the environment and on other people who live on this Earth with us, it changes your perspective on life.
No longer do I think my life is mostly about my comfort, convenience, and happiness. It has opened my eyes to think about if and how my comfort or convenience comes at the expense or exploitation of someone else’s life.
Photo credit: Feed My Starving Children/Flickr
As a Christian, there is just no way that I could think about one day being accountable to Jesus for my actions and telling Him that my comfortable, convenient life was more important than another one of His children’s lives. No. Way.
I truly believe that following Jesus and Caring for Creation will change your life. And not because you’ll start hugging trees, but more likely because you’ll start hugging people (or at least wishing you could hug them) who you previously didn’t even see or even think about.
With my whole heart and mind, I want to implore you to stop thinking about global warming or climate change as a political issue, stop thinking about it as a fad or trend, and stop thinking that it doesn’t really apply to you, and start looking at this issue for what it truly is.
Caring for God’s creation is not a divisive issue. And it’s also not a controversial one. It is an issue that everyone who calls themselves a follower of Jesus needs to uphold and embrace with our words and our actions. Indeed, with our whole lives. Because the lives of some of God’s most precious children, the least of these, are at stake.
Sources and Further Reading: