Theology of Earth Care

We're called to love God and love each other because God first loved us.

 

At the very beginning of our sacred and authoritative text, the Bible, in the creation stories of Genesis, we are reminded of our human role in creation. Genesis 2:15 tells us that God took Adam and put him in the garden to till and keep it. Our first vocation has always been to care for the earth.

 

And in Genesis 9, God makes a covenant to never again destroy creation with Noah, but with all of humanity; a covenant not only with all of humanity, but with every living creature; a covenant not only with all creatures alive today, but with all future generations. God’s covenant with God’s people goes on forever, and it is a covenant that calls us to be God’s people, living into our vocation.


That care for people and for the earth--those calls are at the center of who God calls us to be as followers of Christ.

But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.  Amos 5:24 (photo by David Kepley)
But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever flowing stream.  Amos 5:24 (photo by David Kepley)

When we think about the role of divestment from fossil fuel companies in earth care, we realize that it’s more than just about how we interact with the earth. Climate change will certainly affect the earth, and it will also affect humanity. God calls us as people of faith to care for each other—and we most clearly see this call in the work of Jesus Christ. Jesus spent his ministry caring for people on the margins, healing and feeding people, challenging religious teachers in his time to use their religious laws to give life. Jesus’ life ended after his own arrest for overturning the expectations of the Roman Empire.

In Matthew 25: 31-46 Jesus reminds us that whenever we care for those who are hungry, thirsty, naked, or imprisoned, we care for him. We are called to care for the “least of these.” Climate change is creating a reality where there are more people than ever who are hungry, thirsty, and homeless.

    There are ecological implications from the ongoing environmental crisis for each part of these verses.
    I was hungry—climate change has impacted what food grows where and who has access to what food. More people go  hungry.
    I was thirsty—pollution of water systems and increased drought make finding access to clean potable water difficult.
    I was homeless—rising population levels affect our access to land and places to call home.
    I was shivering—again, rising population levels affect our access to all kinds of resources.

If we are called to love one another, then it is morally and theologically wrong to profit from the destruction of creation, destruction that causes more suffering. We have to remember that our financial holdings are part of who we are as people of faith living in this world.

So, we trust God’s grace and the will of God’s people, the church, to speak up for justice on behalf of all creation, for this generation and all those to come, and for creation.


the creation around us points to the creator of all things… (Calvin, Institutes 1.14.20)