To develop a Christian perspective on climate change, two things are needed.
- The Bible: We first need to have a sound theology that is informed by scripture.
- A pair of binoculars: If we want to understand how God’s creation works, the sensible thing to do is to observe.
I took a moment to take in my surroundings at the chapel of Pentecost Methodist Church, where The Justice Conference Asia 2019 was being held last weekend. Burning rays of light leaked through the windows, and I wondered about how much of my action (or the lack of it) contributed to the heatwave that day.
I was in the workshop by Dr Benjamin Grandey, a climate scientist with a PhD in atmospheric physics, who shared that earlier insight on creation care.
The illustration below is how he perceives the relationship we have with our triune God who created us, and man’s relation with the earth and its various ecosystems.
The 3 directions of harmonious relationships
A: Relationship with God
B: Relationship with other humans in community
C: Relationship with the earth
In a perfect world, God, the earth and humans relate to each other in harmony. But because of sin, the world is filled with broken relationships; the relationship between man and God as well as the relationship between the earth and man has been broken.
Dr Grandey reminds us then that Jesus Christ, the son of God who was sent to the earth to die for our sin, came to reconcile all things through Him (Colossians 1:20). Not just the relationship between man and God, but also the relationship between man and the earth.
He expounded on this, saying: “We often emphasise the relationship between people and God (i.e salvation), but this personal salvation is always in the broader context of the restoration of the whole world of creation.
“Therefore, our personal salvation should also be seen in the larger context of restoration among God, the earth and with other humans. Jesus Christ is the one who provides hope for the climate.”
Even as we hold onto the hope of Christ’s return, when we will see the fullness of His reconciliatory work, we should also remember that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18), said Dr Grandey.
At an earlier workshop by Lawrence Ko, the national director of Singapore Centre for Global Missions, many had asked whether there was a point in taking care of the world when there will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1).
To this, Ko gave an analogy: Taking care of the earth is like taking care of our bodies. If our bodies are sick, we look after it by going to the doctor even though we know that we will eventually die.
He also offered another perspective on 2 Peter 3:10, pointing out that the fire that will come on the Day of the Lord need not necessarily mean annihilation.
Fire can also refer to God’s purifying work. Ko said: “There will be a cleansing and transformation effect.”
With God’s promises in mind, we can be a people who live knowing the future instead of a people who are determined by our past.
“Your future can also determine your present,” shared Ko, “that is your faith and hope. The eschatological vision of the end times should determine how we live in the present.”
Some practical steps to take, as suggested by Dr Grandey, include understanding your carbon footprint by taking a simple test, opting for public transport as opposed to single-passenger rides, or even opting to eat less meat.
Creation care may often seem too big for us to grasp. But as Christians reconciled to God and the earth, our relationship with this home we have been planted in is one that we cannot continue to ignore. While we wait for Christ’s second coming, we can be agents of hope.
As peacemakers, we can demonstrate that the Good News of Jesus Christ is the Good News of harmonious relationships for all creation.
For other stories from The Justice Conference Asia 2019, see “God loves justice, but justice is not God”: Eugene Cho at The Justice Conference Asia.
- What are your views on creation care?
- What are some changes you can make in your life to be a better caretaker of creation?
- What does it mean to live in the present while knowing the future instead of being determined by your past?