There’s a whole basketful of slang words to describe someone who cares about the environment. I’ve previously been branded with: eco-warrior, hippie and tree-hugger. There are also others I’ve not had the pleasure of being associated with. Apparently you can be called eagle freak, climate hawk (why bird of prey themed?!) and green queen (I’ll take that one!).
But I want to propose a new branding for environmentalists.
If you’re one of those people with a working veggie plot (the dream!) or can even just keep a pot plant alive, I’d describe you as having green fingers. But you’ll have heard the colour green commonly associated with environmentalism too. So, I propose that we start calling those who care about the environment as “green hearted”!
I think “green hearted” is the perfect descriptor because caring for our planet should be heart-led. I think it’s a calling God has given us all because, at its core, it’s a matter of justice.
When God created the world he declared it ‘very good’ and then asked humanity to steward it (Genesis 1:28-31). We all have the potential to steward well or cause damage (read WWF, EDF, Tearfund & National Geographic for starters on the damage we’re causing). Therefore, our hearts’ position towards our actions and consumer choices are important.
Climate change is a matter of justice because the impact doesn’t just hit our planet, but brings all of humanity in to its boxing ring. It pulls punches at people both on our doorstep and those who we would require a ferry or long-haul flight to reach.
Not only that, but those who end up being down for the count in this climate change fight are the poorest and most vulnerable in our world. It’s these groups of people who are most susceptible to things like flooding and droughts caused by climate change.
So much of what we stand for as Christians is about not being cold-hearted when it comes to the poor, the voiceless and injustices (Proverbs 31:8-9; Isaiah 58:6-11). It’s clear we must do something about climate change if it’s negatively affecting God’s world and God’s people.
That’s all grand, but how does being green hearted help bring hearts to a living faith in Jesus?
Evangelism and social action aren’t antitheses of each other. After all Jesus did both; they’re two sides of the same coin! Social action is a many stranded rope and caring for the environment is one of these strands. As Christians, I believe we’re not called to choose either pointing people to God or caring for people and planet – we’re called to do both.
And our actions (as well as our words) point to God. If we’re green hearted, we acknowledge the earth as a beautiful gift. Caring about our impact on the planet shows we care that God created it. We acknowledge that our vision is bigger than what directly affects us as individuals and that God’s people matter. Caring about the environment means we reflect God’s image as we take seriously Jesus asking us to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves’ (Mark 12:31). People can see God through us being green hearted.
There’s not a quick fix and environmental decisions require brain power and feel costly at times. However, I desperately want to be more “green hearted”- I desperately want to steward God’s planet well and to love his people through doing this. Want to be green hearted with me?
[If you want to read something more eloquent about Jesus and environmentalism, I’d recommend Arocha’s article. Also, I’d recommend having a read of this recent interview in the Church Times for a some gems from ethical blogger Francesca Willow aka ethical unicorn. You can even read the Archbishop of Canterbury’s thoughts on faith and climate change.]