Following Jesus in a Warming World is a challenging and inspiring book.
When we decided to focus on Climate Change as our second issue of 2023 we knew we wanted to find a book (ideally recently published) that would wrestle with this issue from a Christian perspective. Of course all of the data, science and history of climate change and the environmental movement are important and will be key features of our campaign, but we are a faith-based organization working to call and equip Christians. We wanted a book to help guide us in making the connections between the injustices of climate change and the demands of our faith.
So Maeve, our amazing intern, suggested Following Jesus in a Warming World and we all dove in. Here are some of our initial thoughts, hopefully giving you a preview of what is to come and instilling excitement to learn about the Christian call to climate action.
The title really conveys the focus and message of the book. The author is trying to help readers contend with the realities of climate change as followers of Jesus. These are not separate propositions for him. His contention is that our faith requires something of us in the face of this existential injustice and he is attempting to help us, the followers of Jesus, begin to navigate that.
There is so much I could share from the book and we look forward to walking through it with you in our book group coming up this fall. For now I will just share a passage I found particularly convicting and encouraging.
“There is pressure to flatten out the complexity and nuance of climate action by mashing it together with a whole host of other policy positions privileged by one political party or the other. What a gift Jesus offers to us, then. A clarifying lens that transcends petty games of us versus them, that frees our imagination of zero-sum politics, and reminds us that love is our highest calling and that in God’s economy of abundance, there is plenty to go around.”
I appreciate how he frames our response to climate change in our posture to our neighbor who we are called to love and this book does a great job of calling us to consider how we are to love our neighbors who are most affected by climate change.
One of the things I have found most empowering about this book is the perspective that it offers. Climate change can often feel like something disconnected from ourselves, since human beings are somewhat separated from the rest of the created world. However, understanding that deep love and care that God has for his created world can help change our outlook towards climate action.
In chapter 3, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap embarks on the journey of “recovering the big story.” Throughout the chapter, he dives into biblical text, seeking out the Christian calling to climate action and teaching the reader about how intimately God cares for his whole creation. He highlights a passage from Job. After reading about the excruciating experiences of Job’s life, chapters 38-41 present a love letter from God to his creation.
“Job 39 tells us that God knows when the mountain goat gives birth and that he counts the months until the doe bears her fawn (Job 39:1-2) – can’t you just picture God checking off days on a calendar, eagerly anticipating the baby deer’s arrival with bated breath? God notices the laughter of the wild donkey (Job 39:7), the joy of the ostrich (Job 39:13), and the pride of the horse (Job 39:19-25), not unlike the way a parent notices the unique personalities of her different children… This is not the language of a distant, uninterested God. This is the language of a God who is intimately involved and passionately in love with his created things.” ( pg. 48)
The takeaway for us today is this: If God is so deeply connected and concerned with the entirety of his creation, shouldn’t we be as well?
The call to climate action in the Bible is clear. We hope that you will join us over the coming months to learn about and serve this beautiful world we call home.