Jesus and Climate Change

If the world needs more Jesus, how does Jesus fit into the climate crisis? 

If the greatest commandment Jesus gave us is to love God – 
and if God loves the world, and all Creation – 
then we are to love creation. 

Perhaps for the too-hot-to-handle 21st century, Jesus would amend his commandment to 
“Love God, love your neighbour, and love the earth.” 

I often say Jesus’ commandment to “Love one another” applies to every one – 
even those who make us uncomfortable,  
those whose behaviour seems to contradict the Ten Commandments,  
and those who demand an action we aren’t prepared to do –
because it’s hard or involves giving something up or might get us arrested. 

Wait – Jesus was one of those people, wasn’t he? 

By loving each other, Jesus meant these six things: 
feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, 
welcoming foreigners, clothing the naked, 
caring for the sick, and visiting those in prison (Matthew 25:35-36). 
When we take the scriptures literally, 
we miss the vastness, the expansiveness, 
the not-as-obvious-but-now-makes-total-sense-ness of Jesus’ statement of six:
He advocated for the kind of hospitality that  
offers a helping hand – to people and plants – 
regardless of what risk there might be,  
the kind of hospitality that puts the needs of others before ourselves, 
that treats others the way we want to be treated –
with respect and dignity, compassion and mercy – 
including cows and goats, migratory birds and fish in the sea, worms and bees. 

Visiting those in prison? 
Perhaps we are called to bail out those jailed for protesting pipelines. 
Maybe it’s not even a literal prison but an overcrowded refugee camp. 

Could “clothe the naked” also apply to affordable housing? 
Making sure everyone has adequate shelter that is safe and secure. 

So why wouldn’t Jesus’ statement of six apply to climate change as well? 
Can we honestly know Jesus, and believe he’d sit this one out? 
Nope, there goes Jesus, in the middle of the marching crowd, 
holding up a sign that reads, 
Jesus was all about changing the system. Whether that was in 31 C.E. or 2021 C.E.

And who was he changing the system for?

The meek.
The hungry and thirsty.
The merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers.
The persecuted and the reviled.

“None of you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you have,”
Jesus said (Luke 14:33, NRSV). 

Let’s consider this statement in the context of the climate crisis: 
To become followers of Jesus, we must give up our stuff. 

Give up everything that runs on a fossil fuel. 
Give up the air conditioning. 
Give up the Tim’s cups and the Styrofoam containers. 
Give up the new smart phone. 
Give up the coffee pods. 
Give up the plastic bags and the plastic water bottles… 

While riding in a boat during a storm, Jesus asks his fearful companions, 
“Where is your faith?”
In the context of Creation, and our impact on it, 
we can interpret this as Jesus reminding us that we created this planetary mess. 
The storm we are caught in the midst of is of our making.

Where has our faith been for all these years? 
If we call ourselves Christians, 
if we are disciples of Jesus, 
if we follow his way, his truth and his life – 
where was our faith that calls us to do six specific things?  
Just six! 
All things we’d want done for us
if our life, our world suddenly, unexpectedly went sideways. 

Are we ready to fall into line behind Jesus 
as he asks us to change the system for the better 
rather than change Creation for the worse? 
After all, the world needs more Jesus. 
More than ever.

 ~ Sara Jewell, November 2021 


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