• Having Hope for Creation

    Posted by Ben

    4 August, 2014

    Australian Christians face two problems or challenges about climate change. The first is that of climate change itself. The second is that of the conversation about climate change.




    The first is a problem we share with the world, though the impacts are not borne equally by all. Extreme weather events, stresses on water and food supplies, changing ranges and behaviours of pests and diseases, direct and indirect health impacts, will be the lived reality of a disrupted climate for generations to come. Most of these impacts are already affecting the vulnerable poor – despite them having contributed little or nothing to causing the problem.

    The graph, using data from the US National Climatic Data Center, shows the rising temperature trend from 1880 when records began, until today. Any year that was colder overall than the 20th Century average is represented by a blue bar below the line showing how much colder than the 20th Century average that year was. Any year that was hotter than the 20th Century average is represented by a red bar showing how much hotter it was. In fact, July 2014 marks 352 consecutive months with the global temperature above the 20th Century average.

    Responding to the problem of climate change is a critical aspect of Christian discipleship in our time. In fact, as Rev. Jim Ball suggests in his magnificent book, Global Warming and the Risen Lord, working to overcome and respond to the climate disruption caused by our burning of fossil fuels is part of what it means to follow Jesus in the 21st Century:

    The more deeply we know Him, the more deeply we will love Him. The more we love Him, the more our deepest desire will be to do His will – which in the twenty-first century includes overcoming global warming.

    Responding to climate change is an expression of our love for the Creator. In response to the self-giving love of God, Christians are called and empowered to love those counted last and least in the world, and to stand with them, even where this may entail sacrifices or costly commitments.

    21st Century disciples of Jesus will have to be serious about reducing the harm that we are now knowingly doing in and to God’s Creation and to the vulnerable poor. The consequences of human-caused disruption to the Earth’s climate will be increasingly dire if we do not rapidly reduce and stop the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

    The second problem faced by Australian Christians, is the problem of the conversation about climate change. This conversation has gone badly astray inside our churches and in the wider society.

    We know that many churches prefer not to talk about climate change. Or the conversation is angry argument or divisive debate. There is an urgent need, though, to move from silence or shouting to gracious and prophetic speech.

    Of course, the problem is not restricted to the church. For Christians this is not a matter of taking one side or another in a political debate. Nor is it a matter of going with the flow of either climate concern (or lack of climate concern) in wider society. It is a matter of assessing the evidence of what is happening in God’s creation, and choosing to stand alongside and speak up for people around the world whose lives are already hard, and being made harder by increased temperatures, rising sea levels and disrupted climatic patterns.

    Australian Christians have a God-given opportunity to show leadership in discovering and demonstrating the beauty of lives marked by love of God, love for creation and love for the poor. We have an opportunity to lead in calling for a rapid transition away from fossil fuels, greater investment in renewable energy, efficiency and conservation as well as serious curbs on the export of coal and natural gas. We have an opportunity to call on our leaders to protect the rights of the poor and needy as they frame national and international responses to climate change.

    We will need to be excited, inspired, challenged and equipped as we walk together on a journey of learning and action, advocacy and prayer, in hope for creation.

    We hope you will join us.


    Ben Thurley is the Political Engagement Coordinator for Micah Challenge Australia.