Updated: Sep 19, 2021
“Captain Planet, he’s our hero, gonna take pollution down to zero…”. This was the catchy theme tune intro to my favourite cartoon as a child.
Sadly, Captain Planet, the green haired ‘90s superhero definitely didn’t take pollution down to zero. Scientists and leaders around the world acknowledge the serious climate and environmental emergency we are now facing globally. Fictional heroes aside, it’s no wonder we have been quick to identify more candidates to take up the mantle of climate saviour. David Attenborough? Greta Thunberg? Politicians? Big business? Science? Just whose responsibility is it anyway?
As Christians we know that there is one Saviour and His name is Jesus. In Acts 4: 12 it states, “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved”. This liberating truth is about much more than our personal salvation and is an antidote to any misconceptions we might have about our own role in “fixing” our environmental crisis. God’s amazing redemption plan for all creation, enacted through Jesus, will culminate in the new heaven and new earth promised in Revelation 21. He will make all things new.
So does this absolve humanity of responsibility? What about us as believers? Do we sit back, relax and hand a polluted, depleted and spoiled creation back to our Saviour? No! We were given the earth as a beautiful gift, a bountiful resource and as a responsibility. In Genesis 1, God makes mankind in His image, speaking aloud His instruction that man should have dominion or rule over all the earth. This is not intended as a rule of tyranny, but mirroring His own rule of love, order and justice.
As His image-bearing ambassadors I am not sure that we are adequately fulfilling this contract of care. As the church we have the unique privilege and opportunity to model how we value Creation and, in doing so, point others to its Creator. Consider for a moment the expectations of the Master in the Parable of the Talents (read in Matthew 25: 14-30). Given that average wildlife populations have dropped by 60% in the last 40 years, microplastics are found in our ever-diminishing polar ice, and global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate, are we properly stewarding that with which we have been entrusted?
We know we serve a God who loves the poor and oppressed, who answers injustice with justice (Job 5: 15-16), and who commands us to do the same. Scripture exhorts us to, “Speak up and judge fairly, defend the rights of the poor and needy (Proverbs 31:9)”. It is recognised that climate change and poverty are inextricably linked, with climate change not only disproportionately affecting the poor and disadvantaged but also increasing the scale and burden of poverty. Taking care of creation is not only honouring our God-given responsibility, it is also an integral part of the way we love the poor. Can we say we are truly upholding their cause, whilst continuing to feed into the climate problem which threatens the most vulnerable populations around the world?
So whose responsibility is it? It is certainly not our job to save the world. Phew! Captain Planet couldn’t do it and neither can we. Only Jesus can save. But as His disciples and image bearers we must surely recognise and outwork our responsibility to honour God and love others by carefully stewarding creation, while awaiting with hope, the day the Master returns and all is made new.
- Jade Robertson