Our planet is home to 8 billion neighbors, and we’re called to love every one of them. One way to do that is by caring for the environment.
But wait, shouldn’t we spend our energy meeting people’s spiritual needs? Isn’t recycling, cleaning beaches, and saving the bees just a waste of time? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
Jesus’ ministry included caring for the spiritual and physical needs of the people he met. If our spiritual needs were all that mattered, then Jesus wasted a lot of his time.
To which you might say, “Okay, but Jesus never told people to use paper straws.”
I agree; Jesus never talked about caring for our planet. But he did call us to love our neighbors as ourselves, and caring for the environment is loving your neighbor.
Caring for our home
Things have changed a bit since Jesus’ day. People have moved all over the world, creating and innovating along the way. But sometimes, those creations have caused harm to God’s good creation.
Chemicals spilling into rivers poison fish which are caught, processed, and sent around the world. Plastics kill vital ocean life, sending species into extinction. Particles in the air from factories, planes, and cars lower the quality of the air we breathe. Forest fires and droughts are on the rise, causing displacement and food shortages.
These are just a few examples of how our innovation has impacted our home. All of us have felt the effects of it, even if we choose to deny it: rising food costs, new disease risks, and higher rates of chronic illness.
But what does this have to do with Jesus?
Well, he calls us to love our neighbors, and everyone is our neighbor. And our neighbors live on planet earth, so we love them by caring for the environment.
“What difference can I make?”
That’s a question I ask myself often. While caring for the environment feels like an overwhelming task, there’s actually a lot we can do. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of how we can care for our global neighbors:
– Start recycling
– Get reusable containers for food and drinks
– Choose a specific environmental cause you care about and advocate for it
– Educate yourself on solutions to major climate issues
– Vote for people who support lasting change
There are countless other ways to make a difference, and we can’t do everything. But we can take small steps to improve the well-being of our neighbors. but it starts with adopting the mindset that caring for the environment is loving your neighbor.