Lately I have been very convicted by the state of our earth. I feel guilty every time I put anything in the garbage can. I have started feeling physically stressed out when I consider the state of God’s creation. I have actually started washing our plastic baggies, something I vowed I would never do.
I don’t understand the ins and outs of global warming. I can’t grasp all the underlying causes. But I am confident that the earth is changing and it’s not moving towards the fullness of its glory.
As I have dug deeper and sought to enter into the conversation, I have been disappointed at the lack of Christian voices. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few loud voices and they are making their mark. But there are questions I keep asking myself: why is a 16 year old from Norway leading a climate revolution? When did climate change become a progressive agenda? In Genesis 2, God’s people were given the privilege and honor to take care of God’s creation; shouldn’t we be leading the charge?
As I continued my research, I heard a few compelling reasons why Christians aren’t out in front of the conversation, but none of them carried much weight. They all feel like shallow excuses. I have come to believe the real reason why many Christians aren’t engaged in conversations about climate change is because we haven’t considered why we should be.
Why should we care?
To understand, first we need to adjust our focus. We get so consumed with our place in this world that we forget that we are a small piece of the big picture. We forget our actions affect other people. We forget the decisions we make will affect generations to come. We don’t consider the legacy we will leave behind.
We forget we will leave a legacy. It will either be good or bad. It’s up to us to decide what we will be remembered by.
So now that we have taken a more broad view, let’s take a look into the future. Let’s imagine we have not changed a thing in the way we interact with the earth. Disease is (more) rampant because of pollutants in the air. Healthy food is scarce because climate’s effect on farm land. People are displaced from their homes because of natural disasters. Without a home kids grow up homeless and this reduces their ability to receive quality education.
You see, unless something changes, this is the world our kids and grandkids will grow up in.
But most of us that read this blog, we have the resources to avoid these things. We will figure out how to filter the air around us. We will spend the extra money to buy healthy food. We will go to the doctor at the first sign of illness. We will most likely always have a home, if not ours-we will have a place where we can stay.
What about the sick, the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged?
The least of these.
It’s been proven that careless behavior towards the earth disproportionately affects the least of these. People who are sick, poor, disabled or disadvantaged do not have the same resources we do. They will breathe in the polluted air. They will not have any money to buy healthy food. If they are displaced from their homes, they will not have a place to stay.
And Jesus seems to have some strong feelings about how we treat the least of these.
In Matthew 25:35 Jesus says “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
If you follow Jesus, this is a familiar section of scripture. You have probably looked at the passage and recognized the importance of physically meeting those needs mentioned. It wasn’t until recently that I saw this calling in a different light. I took a step back and looked at the big picture.
I asked myself, what if Jesus is not just talking about meeting the most immediate, physical need? What if he is not only calling us to feed the poor-but to consider the food the poor rely on? What if he is not only calling us to give water to the thirsty, but to conserve the water we have been given? What if he is not only calling us to give clothes and shelter, but to consider that our choices today have a long term effect on whether those things are available tomorrow?
I believe that he is calling us to ask ourselves those questions. He is calling us to take care of the earth not only because he has given us the privilege and honor to do so, but because he loves his people and he calls us to do the same. He asks us to look beyond today, our small world and consider the big picture. He is asking us to consider the choices we make today and how they will affect tomorrow. He is calling us to consider our legacy.
He isn’t asking us to care for His earth because it’s trendy or it’s the hot political movement. He is asking us because he gave it to us to sustain us…all of us, even the least of these.
I know this conversation can feel overwhelming. When I feel overwhelmed, it’s easy for me to get paralyzed and do nothing.
A lot of small changes over time lead to big change later on. We are in the early stages of these changes at our house, but here are a few things we are trying:
• Buy cloth napkins and hide the paper ones.
• Don’t make your paper towels easily accessible, it’s too easy to grab a handful.
• Wash your plastic baggies, in fact don’t buy them. Use reusable containers or buy compostable bags (I found ours at target).
• Don’t by individual packages of snacks.
• Educate yourself on what you can recycle, you can probably recycle more than you think.
• Bring a mug with you to the coffee shop, church, or work…anywhere to replace the use of a disposable one.
Comment with more ideas! Let’s join together and make our small changes add up to something big!