In recent years, the climate crisis has moved up the public agenda and campaigning on the issue has become a core focus of Tearfund’s work. While many of our supporters have welcomed this, some are concerned that we’ve jumped on a popular bandwagon – one that is world-inspired rather than faith-inspired, and one that’s distracting churches from their primary focus on the gospel.
Here we address this concern and explain why taking action on the climate crisis is firmly rooted in our faith.
A beautiful yet broken world
First, our climate campaigning is rooted in love for the world God has made.
The Bible tells us that God is a creative God who has made a beautiful world that he delights in. God’s love for his creation goes far beyond any human-made environmental movement. Creation was made by Jesus, through Jesus and for Jesus (Colossians 1:16) and God has declared it ‘very good’ (Genesis 1:31).
Yet, the climate crisis is wreaking havoc, intensifying threats such as extreme weather events, sea-level rise and melting glaciers, and pushing creation to breaking point. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that this is a human-made problem, driven by the burning of fossil fuels. This is the outworking of a global system built on overconsumption – one that is violating God’s intention for his world.
Called to love our neighbours
Crucially, our climate campaigning is also rooted in love for our global neighbours, who are suffering the most because the climate is changing.
And Tearfund isn’t new to the cause. Far from jumping on a bandwagon, we first called for climate action at the time of the Rio summit in 1992, and have campaigned on the issue for many years since then.
That’s because we’ve witnessed the devastating impact of climate breakdown on the communities we serve for over decades – and we’ve seen these impacts getting worse. Rains are becoming less reliable, and droughts, floods and storms are more frequent and extreme. We’re seeing the evidence on our television screens – and perhaps even experiencing some impacts ourselves – but it’s those living in poverty who bear the brunt. And sadly, millions of people across the world who have lifted themselves out of poverty over the past 50 years are being pushed back into it as a result.
If we want to see an end to extreme poverty, we have to tackle the climate crisis. Jesus’ greatest commandments are to love him and to love our neighbours: according to him, that’s anyone who’s in need (Luke 10:25–37). As his followers, we are compelled to take action on the climate crisis out of love for those who are in need.
Jesus is our ultimate hope
Some fear that by focusing on our own actions, alongside lobbying world leaders for policy change, we’re looking to man – rather than Christ – as the ‘solution’ to climate change.
As Christians, and as a Christian organisation, our ultimate hope is in Jesus. It is Jesus who brings salvation, and he who changes lives. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to restore all things – people and the wider creation – and we know that one day everything will be made new.
But the Bible is also clear that, far from being passive spectators, we are called to be part of this restoration work. This includes taking care of the earth and its resources. It includes loving our neighbours and meeting their needs – and it also includes standing up for the rights of the oppressed and challenging unjust systems and practices. Proverbs 31:9 says: 'Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.’
Leading the way
We believe the church has a key role to play at this crucial moment. To read more about the biblical basis for taking action on the climate crisis, please read our blog Why Christians should care about climate change, and find resources here to help you pray.