The pork shoulder on the grill was completely engulfed in flames.
I rushed into my brother’s kitchen to get baking soda to put the fire out.
But I was ignorant of this kitchen. I opened cabinet after cabinet, but could not find any baking soda. Desperate, I grabbed the closest thing to baking soda I could spot: corn starch.
I ran the box out to the flaming grill, upended it above the fiery porcine, and the smallest, most pitiful puff of corn starch you can imagine came out, drifting away on the wind before it could douse the fire. The box was empty.
Knowledge vs. Climate Change
Climate change is the biggest threat facing humanity. Broadly speaking, Christians in America recognize this threat, recognize our own culpability, and recognize our God-given responsibility to care for the environment, according to a Yale survey.
Even acknowledging the problem, though, we are often at a loss as to what to do. We find ourselves desperate for a solution without really knowing where to look, as I was in searching my brother’s kitchen for baking soda. We grab ahold of the first thing that presents itself, in my case corn starch, not sure if it is an empty solution or not.
I have identified five things Christians should do to fight climate change, and educating ourselves is the first. Knowledge is the most important part of fighting climate change.
All of us, not just scientists, engineers, inventors and policy makers, need to educate ourselves about climate change; its causes, effects and solutions. As Christians, we must also educate ourselves about the spiritual aspects of climate change, including our scriptural mandate to care for the Earth and to love our neighbors.
Renew Your Minds
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God- what is good and acceptable and perfect.”Romans 12:1-2, NRSV
Throughout my Christian journey, I have heard the phrase, “a living sacrifice,” time and time again. It was brought up in my youth group days as an appeal to abstain from drugs, alcohol and premarital sex. I have heard it taught to mean we are to live our day-to-day lives in the same way Jesus did. The phrase is even included in the United Methodist Communion liturgy.
But what about our minds?
In this passage, Paul includes our minds as part of our worship of God. As our bodies are submitted to Christ and our spirits are redeemed by Christ, so our minds ought to be as well. When Jesus identified the greatest commandment, “Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’” (Matthew 22:37; emphasis added)
Our minds are an important part of our being, and we are to discipline them, train them, use them, and submit them to God as part of our worship.
I do my best to exercise every day. But there are some days I don’t feel like it, and I skip it.
Of course, once you skip the first day, it is easier to skip the next, then the next, then the next… Before I know it, I’ve lost the habit, and my body suffers the consequences.
The same is true of our minds.
Human beings prefer the path of least resistance. We do not like to be challenged. New ideas, complicated science, and difficult facts are daunting. Ignorance is bliss. We would rather remain unknowledgeable and unchallenged.
But Christians are instructed to renew our minds, to not let ourselves become intellectually lazy. Introducing new knowledge into our minds and letting them expand and shape our understanding of God, ourselves, and the world at large helps us to better discern what is good and acceptable and perfect.We cannot willfully remain intellectually ignorant and hope to discern God better.
We cannot refuse to expand our knowledge about climate change and take seriously our God-ordained responsibility of caring for creation.
Where to Begin
Climate change is a topic that needs to be explored from countless angles: meteorological, chemical, engineering, economics, political science, sociological, theological, psychological, and on and on and on. There is no end to approaches and resources for understanding climate change and all its effects on the world.
Let me give you a handful of resources that I have found helpful lately.
Since Christmas, I have taken on these three books, and recommend all three of them:
- How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Needby Bill Gates.
- Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided Worldby Katherine Hayhoe.
- Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming, edited by Paul Hawken
If you are looking for books with a more spiritual emphasis, I recommend:
- This Sacred Life: Humanity’s Place in a Wounded World by Norman Wirzba
- The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age by Norman Wirzba
- Hospitable Planet: Faith, Action, and Climate Change by Stephen Jurovics
None of these books interest you? Check out this list of recommended books on climate change.
If you’d prefer videos, many are available online, free of charge.
Start with Katherine Hayhoe’s series, Global Weirding, for a whole lot of good information, explained easily, in digestible nuggets. Dr. Hayhoe is a climate scientist, professor, evangelical Christian, and excellent communicator.
YouTube has a whole list of TED Talks about climate change that you can access any time you like.
The above resources are a starting point, but if you don’t like my recommendations, go find more.
You have the whole internet at your fingertips. Google is your friend. Universities, governments, non-profit organizations, churches and even NASA have tons of information about climate change, all available with a simple web search.
Like to listen to podcasts? I just did a search for “climate change” on my podcast app, and got dozens of options in less than a second.
Get out there and find real, scientific, non-conspiracy driven information about climate change.
It will take all of us working together to reverse this threat and avert catastrophe, and Christians ought to be leading the charge. We cannot be willfully ignorant, intellectually lazy, and hope to do our Father’s will.