How Should Christians Respond to Climate Change?
How many of us can remember the first “job” God gave to Adam? Is it possible that the Paris Climate Agreement is directly linked to one of the very first moments in the history of mankind? Would God be interested in a global climate agreement? These are a few of the questions I think we should be asking in light of the recent decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Climate Agreement. Thankfully, God is not silent when it comes to climate change and how we should respond.
Psalm 102:25–26 says, “Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth and made the heavens with your hands. They will perish, but you remain forever; they will wear out like old clothing. You will change them like a garment and discard them.”
If we believe the Bible, then verses like this make us certain that our earth is deteriorating. The atmosphere, or “heavens”, is part of that process, and according to this passage the very foundations of the earth are falling apart! This ongoing and ultimate destruction is no surprise to a Christian. What might be surprising is how we’ve allowed ourselves to respond.
1) Care for your “clothes”
What was Adam’s first real “job?” In Genesis 2:15, God tasked Adam with caring for the earth and all the animals in it. Many of you know how the story unfolds. Because Adam and Eve chose their own way of doing things, the earth and everything in it have been broken ever since.
Isn’t it natural to throw away a shirt with a hole in it? With that in mind, would we be so quick to do so if that shirt was the only one we had and was designed by God Himself? The same is true with our relationship to earth. God gave us the earth with the responsibility of caring for it. Even though we broke it, we’re not in a position to simply discard of the damaged goods. We look forward to a future replacement earth, as promised in Revelation 21, but it’s important to recognize that it’s not God’s plan for us to trash the earth in the meantime. While we wait, we care for the only “clothes” we have, knowing that we need them and that they are a great gift from God himself.
Ultimately, the earth is a picture of God’s artistry and a glimpse of His greatness. God says, “look what I made,” and we both find joy in its beauty. God made the earth for Himself, and it brings Him great joy to share it with us. Whether or not you agree with the Paris Climate Agreement, we should all agree to take good care of the “clothes” God has given us.
2) Be careful —don’t be a know-it-all
When it comes to the discussion around climate change, it’s easy for Bible-believers to become arrogant know-it-alls. I can say this because I’m guilty of it. The Bible describes how the earth will be destroyed, and we know it will be God himself who ends it! We also know the character of God and His provision for mankind. It’s often hard to entertain the idea that “tiny mankind” could destroy ANYTHING God made, knowing just how great and powerful God is. But if we refer back to Genesis, we see things differently. God gave humanity the ability to choose. That free will includes a choice to steward the earth and a consideration of how our actions may affect His creation.
Is it possible that we only know the ending of the story and not all the details along the way? And, isn’t “choosing our own way” what got us in trouble in the first place? Don’t be too quick to believe the climate can’t change or that we can’t be the ones destroying God’s handiwork. After all, we’ve been destroying things from the very beginning.
3) Pray for your leaders
No matter where you fall in your opinion of the Paris Climate Agreement or how humanity affects climate change, all Christians should pray for their leaders. Our leaders have tremendous power to shape how humanity treats the earth. God desires for His people to live in peace, and encourages us to pray for those in positions of authority (1 Timothy 2:1–4).
Prayer is not a last resort or “the only thing we have left to do.” We are not powerless. On the contrary, when we pray, we speak to the source of all power and all wisdom. Prayer is our most powerful position. When we pray, we invite all of God into all of our circumstances.
Not only does prayer petition God to intervene, it positions our hearts to be reshaped. We look to God, the all-knowing, to give us peace and insight and to guide our actions. We don’t have all the answers, but we find rest knowing He does. When we pray, the Holy Spirit counsels, comforts and teaches us. We are reminded of God’s words given to us in scripture and His truth is revealed.
Let’s pray that God would continue to teach and shape us, that He would guide our leaders, and that our ultimate hope would be found in Him and the hope He gave us in His son, Jesus. Because of our rescuer Jesus, we have hope for a life beyond this broken one we live in.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.” (1 Chron. 16:34)