The COP26 climate conference is held in Glasgow in November 2021. Here, the nations of the world gather together to discuss how best to deal with the threat of climate change to our planet, caused by industrialisation over the past 200 years.
This has added more carbon dioxide (CO2) to the atmosphere, which in turn has caused global average temperatures to have risen to around 1C above the 19th Century average, and they are projected to rise at least a further 1-2C by the end of this century unless worldwide action is taken.
The purpose of this blog post isn’t to go into great detail on the science of climate change (some general details can be found here) or indeed on the tricky political situation of trying to get hundreds of nations to all agree to measures which may well not be popular in the short term.
Let’s just say for now that without a coordinated and concerted global effort to dramatically cut CO2 output, there is a real threat of catastrophic changes happening to our established way of life.
We’ve already seen in the past decade an increase in extreme weather events across the world such as extreme temperatures, droughts and wildfires on one hand, and then severe storms, flooding and crop destruction as a result of that on the other hand.
Whilst to a certain extent, these sorts of events have been happening throughout history, the evidence points to this happening a lot more regularly in the past 20 years, threatening the eventual loss of some low-lying places to rising sea levels, as well as the loss of entire ecosystems.
Christian principles about the home we all share
The most important thing to say is that Christadelphians are all agreed in our belief that the future of mankind is on this planet. God’s plan and purpose is fixed on what happens here, and we all have a part to play, however small, in filling the earth with God’s glory. Clearly, this is primarily a spiritual act, but the physical acts we do also have a bearing on how much the world in its current state glorifies the creator.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!Isaiah 72 v 18-19
Right from the origin story of both humanity and the planet itself in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, we read that God intended mankind to look after their home. We also get a warning in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, that God doesn’t look kindly on those who cause destruction to the world.
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.Genesis 2 v 15
“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, who is and who was…for destroying the destroyers of the earth.”Revelation 11 v 17-18
Many Christians believe that God’s ultimate plan for mankind is centred in heaven rather than on earth. Some actually expect God to destroy the earth at some future time!
It could therefore be easy to lessen just how much our world actually matters.
It’s important to state that I’m sure most Christians wouldn’t want to deliberately mistreat the world purely as a result of that belief, but there is an inherent danger of perhaps taking less care of something if we don’t think it necessarily has much of a long term future in God’s eyes anyway.
Christadelphians believe that Jesus will one day return to earth from heaven, and that the resurrection of humans will be on earth, not in heaven. Planet Earth, therefore, is the focus of God’s plan.
“…why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”Acts 1 v 11
Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.Daniel 12 v 2
Furthermore, the promise at this time is that eventually the hardships of mortal life will be done away with.
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”Revelation 21 v 3-4
Essentially, whilst we may expect many difficulties to come on earth both now and in the future, we don’t believe that God will allow Earth to become uninhabitable, he will intervene when the time is right to bring about a restoration likened to the Garden of Eden, and this is a sure hope for those who look forward to return of Jesus.
That’s all well and good, but what about now?
This promised future time promised to those who respond to God’s call for salvation is both exciting and reassuring, it gives us hope as we see so much destruction, suffering and hopelessness all around us. That is especially the case as so often we see worldwide political efforts to make the world a better place fall very far short of being a success.
Yet, as much as it feels like the time for Jesus to return is getting close, we cannot just abandon all efforts to be good custodians of the world we live in. As individuals, we might feel like what we do in the here and now can’t make any noticeable difference, and yet those of us who have a faith in God to restore the world in the future, also have a responsibility to at least try to treat our home now with the respect deserved.
Small things we can do include reducing the amount we throw away and ensuring we make an effort to recycle more.
- Can we buy more local goods to avoid so much shipping around the world?
- Can we travel less, especially by plane?
- Can we do more of our local travel using less polluting forms of transport such as cycling, walking and public transport?
- Can we change our car to a smaller and less polluting model?
- Can we get more energy efficient devices at home, or install solar panels to generate more of our own clean energy?
- Can we consider eating less meat? Even if we all pledged to eat 1 less meat meal per week, then this would collectively have a big impact on the climate.
- Can we plant more trees in our gardens?
We will all have things we can do well, as well as things we will struggle with, for all sorts of reasons.
And the purpose of this blog isn’t to make anyone feel guilty.
But if we can all make a few small changes then collectively this makes a significant difference.
Finally, just as Christians encourage each other to be better people through prayer and setting an example for others to follow, we likewise should aim to live our lives in a way that shows that we do care for this planet and want to ensure that it will still be a good home for future generations yet to be born.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”John 13 v 34-35