Submitted by Eugene Loh
When people talk about the Bible and climate change, they often refer to verses, like in Genesis 1 and 2, that deal with land, creation, and stewardship.
A favorite passage of mine is Leviticus 25 and 26. The text is rich, but one theme is that the land should not be overworked; rather, it should regularly be restored to its original state. If we abuse the land, we will be punished harshly to allow the land its rightful rejuvenation. I think of the beatitude “the meek shall inherit the earth,” with the earth being the meek whom we are called to champion and protect.
But when I worry about climate change and ask myself what biblical injunction demands action, I do not come up with a sound bite, a verse I can cite. Instead, I try to think of everything I know of the Bible and then ask myself generally, “What does it mean to serve God?”
One answer comes from the end of the Bible. Revelation 21 describes the “New Jerusalem,” when there will be “a new heaven and a new earth,” God “will wipe away every tear,” there will be no more death or mourning. The decor will be dazzling! To those who are thirsty, God will give freely from the water of life.
A different answer comes from the white board in the Edwards Hall kitchen: “I was hungry, and you fed me,” referring to Matthew 25. Christian Social Concerns (CSC) workers distribute food to the hungry from this kitchen. The decor is “soup kitchen.” The world is wounded. We identify its needs and minister to it, whether feeding the hungry, visiting those in jail, housing the homeless, defending the widow, encouraging the disheartened, or championing the oppressed. To those who are thirsty, we are called to give drink.
The Bible’s bookends, the first few pages of Genesis and the last few of Revelation, Eden and the New Jerusalem, describe harmony. The intervening thousand-or-so pages describe a broken world, the backdrop against which we are to serve and worship God. The bulk of the Bible describes our broken world and our call to act in faith and service. We respond to the chronic challenges of poverty and social injustice but also to specific, grand challenges such as slavery in the United States or the Holocaust of World War II.
Currently, the biosphere is under siege and it appears we have only a few years of “carbon budget” left. Under these circumstances, what does the Bible have to say about climate change? I think about the book of Revelation’s words to the church in Laodicea. The words, spoken in a vision and using evocative imagery, condemn a community as being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, fit only to be spit out, just living in its comfort while ignoring the suffering world around.
What does the Bible have to say about our response to climate change? It calls us to wake up to the world’s needs and show determined and faithful action to the crisis around us.
PS: Monthly eco tip: Change your web search engine to Ecosia. It’s like other search engines in most ways, but its profits help support planting trees to reduce greenhouse gases.
 If you’ve read this far, let me know. First two respondents win $3 each. No joke. Limit of one award per household.
 Rev 3.14-22
If you have doubts, criticisms, questions, skepticism, etc., let’s chat. It’s an interesting topic.