It is our God-given responsibility to care for creation, writes Kuki Rokhum, who is on the leadership team of Tearfund’s partner in India, EFICOR.
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it
It has been a journey over many decades for me to come to a deeper understanding of what it means to live as God’s people in God’s world. Over this time I’ve wrestled with the theology of creation care, while also witnessing the experiences of people living in poverty in my home country of India and elsewhere – poverty that is being worsened by the environmental impact of a warming climate.
Through this journey, I’ve come to believe that there are two fundamental things that demand urgent reflection and response from the global Church: how we understand God’s relationship to the world and how we understand the command to love our neighbour in God’s world. As the effects of climate change become more and more apparent, these questions are taking on an even greater urgency.
In India, as in other places, we are feeling the effects of climate change in extreme weather events, changing monsoon patterns and record temperatures. EFICOR works with farmers who tell us how things have changed. Unpredictable monsoons have affected production. More frequent droughts and flooding are causing huge losses for farmers and having a disastrous impact.
It is the poorest countries, and within them the poorest people – who have produced the lowest carbon emissions, and have the least resilience to allow them to respond – that feel most strongly the effects of climate-related disasters, droughts, floods and extreme temperatures. With increased disasters there will be more climate-related displacement.
Jesus tells us that the greatest of the Commandments in the Law is to love God “with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”. The second is to “love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). In the climate of change we find ourselves in, how do we respond faithfully to the call to love our neighbours?
In the climate of change we find ourselves in, how do we respond faithfully to the call to love our neighbours?
What a difference it would make if we were to truly acknowledge the earth and those who live in it as belonging to God and to respond in love, as an expression of our Christian faith. If we were to tend and take care of the rest of creation because it is our God-given responsibility to do so.
My understanding of God and God’s word draws me into an ever-growing awe of his creation and the depth of responsibility that God has given to us as his image bearers. If I do not care for God’s earth, I do not love God, nor do I love my neighbour.
Related projects have received support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).