Climate Change. Global Warming. Buzz words to be sure. And, recently, there has been a lot of conversation about what they mean. Lots of back and forth about whether there really is a change in our climate that threatens the ecological system we call Mother Earth. What fascinates me is that there are people who call themselves Christians who not only deny there is such a thing as climate change, but that, even if there was such a thing, say it doesn't matter. "After all," they say, "we're leaving this place at some point anyway, so what's the difference?"
That is, there are some, maybe even many Christians who believe the ultimate reality is a place called heaven that has nothing to do with earth. I'm not sure what bible they are reading, but it is not the Bible of Jesus, the very first Christians, the Apostle Paul and countless others who have a much different view of heaven and earth.
For example, the story of creation is the first thing we read about in the Bible. Genesis. Beginnings. God creates the universe and all that is in it. It is referred to as a garden. Eden. Paradise.
And when God creates humankind he gives them the authority to rule over all creation. This authority was conveyed when God created us "in his image" to be good stewards of creation. This idea of being "image bearers" is important. It defines our human vocation. But as the biblical story goes, we surrendered our vocation through the worship of false gods. And that surrender has led to a kind of exile. We are exiled from our true selves.
Another way of saying this is we have lost our humanity.
We even use language such as "man's inhumanity to man," don't we? When we do the things that continue to violate the well being of creation we move in the direction of becoming less human--inhumane--and lose sight of our true human vocation.
The rest of the biblical story describes God's efforts to restore us to our proper place within the created order so God can make his dwelling among us and oversee the renewal of all creation. In time God's Word becomes flesh and lives among humanity, laying aside his divinity, and emptying himself, taking on death by dying.
And in doing so puts an end to human exile once and for all.
Not so we can go go to heaven, but so we can live our our true human vocation of self-sacrificial love as image bearers of the one who created all things. You see, when that happened a revolution in understanding who we are and whose we are began. And it continues even to today. Ultimately, as Revelation says, there will be a "new heaven and a new earth." The old will pass away and the "marriage" of heaven and earth will be completed. God will then make his dwelling among people and we will continue to participate in the good stewardship of God's creation.
When Christians say they are "saved" by Jesus so they can "go to heaven" they have tamed the much more significant work Jesus initiated by his death. The first Christians clearly understood that God had acted in Jesus on the day he died and that by 6 o'clock that afternoon the world, time, space, creation was no longer the same. God had reclaimed all creation.
So, from a truly mature, Christian, viewpoint it doesn't matter what anyone says about whether there is a thing called climate change, or a thing called global warming. Our human vocation as image bearers of God is to take care of creation. The Earth matters.
It is, and will be, our heavenly home.