By Hannah Brzozowski
From the very start: Let me make something very clear: I am no scientist. I am a Christian who tries my best to serve God in every area of my life, including taking care of the earth.
In the past, I've seen climate change as a hoax and something that people made up to scare us. But over time, I've seen that we need to pay more attention to how we are taking care of our planet.
1. We experience God in nature.
The earth is a gift and I love to unwrap it. There's just something about going on a hike in the Rocky Mountains, turning a corner and seeing this spectacular view that goes on for miles. Or when I've walked along the beach in Charleston at sunset with my husband and my dog, seeing our footprints in the sand behind us, slowly get washed away by the tide. There's something about seeing the Napali Coastline in Hawaii covered in trees and waterfalls. And then, honestly, there's something about sitting in my backyard in Champaign, hearing the birds chirp and the morning sun on my face. There's just something about this planet that is so special.
So many times, I have experienced God in nature. Those views from the mountain top that can make me feel so small and yet so seen. When I think about God, the creator of the universe, knowing the hairs on my head, I get goosebumps. It makes me want to praise God for the amazing earth that he's given us. God meets us there. Just read the Psalms and you'll see nature imagery everywhere. God is constantly using nature to minister to my soul, and I'm sure to yours too.
2. God told us to take care of the planet.
Genesis 1:26 says "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
We were told to rule over the earth and everything in it by God, himself. So, when I see trash on the side of the road or a picture of a turtle with plastic wrapped around their leg, it's disheartening. I think we can do better and we must do better to take care of this gift.
I really liked John Piper's analogy when it came to climate change. He says that we can view our bodies and the planet as very similar. Both will pass away at some point.
As Christians, we take care of our bodies because they are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:9). We exercise, eat well, and take care of our mental health because we are housing a person of the Trinity. We know that our bodies are important to our God given purpose and thus, we want to help make them last as long as possible. Similarly, the planet is housing us, so let's take care of it. That doesn't mean, don't use the planet. But it does mean being good stewards of it.
3. Climate Change affects the poor the most.
When looking at the Bible, we see things like God promising not to send another flood that will cover the whole earth. So, then Christians conclude that the ice caps aren't going to melt. We'll be "fine." But, according to Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, if the ice caps melt, that would actually kill 2.5 billion people. So, it would kill a lot of people but it would not cover the entire earth - just as God promised.
Who would those 2.5 billion people be? The people most affected by climate change are the poor. The people who can't just pick up and move when the water levels get too high. The ones that can't afford food when prices increase. This opened up my eyes to the affects of climate change for people. This isn't just about the cute turtles or the oceans getting filled with plastic. This is about human beings, created in God's image, like you and me.
The poor are the group that God cares about - a lot. Jesus constantly talked about the impoverished and helping those in need. As Christians, we know that we should help the poor. So, if helping with climate change, ultimately helps the poor - let's do that.
So what do we do?
Do your research. Learn more. Watch YouTube Videos, read books, and listen to podcasts.
Talk about it with people. Start the conversations about why, as Christians (and human beings for that matter), we should care about the planet. According to a Pew Research Center poll, only 35% of U.S. Protestants (non catholic Christians) believe in climate change. Be understanding, listen well, and loving as you do this.
Ask God what he wants you to do. God is ready and available to speak to you and help you figure out what you can do in your small corner of the world to take care of his gift to us.
We'd love to connect with you more at Anchor Church. If you'd like to get involved with our church, please go to www.anchorchurchil.com/getinvolved.