It’s feels hard to convince Christians that ecology is important. Perhaps it’s a sign of how solidly most of us western Christians have bought into our consumerist culture. Maybe it’s just that ecology comes some way down the list of priorities for the church. It’s hard to compete for priority against shiny new (or renewed) buildings with state of the art equipment, or, if we’re feeling more spiritual, with evangelism, social action and youth work.
But if most of the world’s population has died because of flooding, starvation, water-borne disease or fighting over scarce resources, it will be hard to tell them about the love of Jesus.
I think that there are theological reasons for the church to take ecology seriously.
– It’s God’s planet. How dare humans lay waste to it? How dare we commodify God’s creation and take power over it to serve our own ends?
– The people belong to God and he loves them. Food aid to the starving is one thing; mitigating climate change so that fewer people starve seems like a better thing.
– Jesus’ risen body is flesh and blood, still human even if of a different order. Stuff you can drop on your foot still matters in the new creation.
Then there are practical reasons why ecology is a spiritual issue.
– It encourages thoughtful living. Thinking ecologically makes you think about the consequences of your actions on the world around you. This deepens your connection to people and planet, enhancing your awareness valuing of the world and of your place within it. This is profoundly spiritual.
– That thoughtfulness and care also leads you through a journey of making the way you live more creative and less destructive. So ecology is a discipleship issue.
– ‘Green’ thinking places an emphasis on community, where collaboration and sharing resources are important. That kind of connection in practice is spiritual and is at the heart of the gospel anyway.
In John 3.16, John (or was it Jesus?) says that God loved the world so much that he sent his only Son … If the church cannot find the same love and compassion for the world and turn its resources outwards, how are we following Jesus?