The Common Good

Earth Week: A Witness to God's Glory

There’s an old hymn that many Christians have sung for nearly a century. “How Great Thou Art” celebrates the glory of God while considering, “all the works thy hands have made.” It reminds me of the psalm that reads, “The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.”

Creation, therefore, is a witness to the wonder and awe of God. Although humanity has been given the honor of bearing God’s image, the earth shows God’s creativity and ingenuity. Over the years I’ve heard so many stories of people finding faith in God, not because of brilliant arguments, but because they are in awe of the complexity and glory of the created world.

But creation is not just a unique witness to God’s glory — it is, as the apostle Paul wrote, “groaning” waiting also for its redemption. This past Easter Sunday, Christians all over the world sang joyful songs of resurrection and renewal. Many of these songs proclaim freedom for all of creation — not just for humanity. One church I know of even sang “Joy to the World,” in celebration that the power of Christ’s resurrection extends “far as the curse is found.”

It’s hard to face, but humanity — image bearers of God — is largely responsible for destroying much of this great witness to God’s glory. Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening, humans are primarily responsible, and it will keep getting worse if nothing is done. The impact of carbon pollution mars not only the beauty of God’s earth, but affects the flourishing of God’s people. Many of the poorest among us are suffering from food scarcity, droughts, flooding and increased diseases caused by climate change. And — to use an image from creation itself — our politics on this issue are stuck in the mire of cynicism and inaction, wasting time that we simply don’t have.

Which is why for Christians, caring for God’s creation should be a priority. It is not just a matter of science or politics, but an indication of our worship and praise of the Creator. As the whole of creation acts as a witness to God’s glory and prays for its redemption, so must we. And with Earth Week following on the heels of Holy Week, it’s an opportunity to both reflect on and act in ways that will help renew creation.

Starting today, Christians will share how they’ve witnessed the effects of climate change through social media. We invite you to join with us by sharing your “Climate Witness,” taking a photo of yourself, and sharing it on Twitter with the hashtag #MyClimateWitness.

On Friday, Sojourners is hosting a group of evangelical Christians who are part of the group “Pray No KXL.” These leaders are coming to share about why they’re joining the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline, which would endanger farms and waterways in the Heartland and contribute significantly to climate pollution. These evangelicals will share their witness with us, and to allow us to pray for them and bless their work as they speak out on behalf of God’s creation.

We invite you to sign up for the rest of our Earth Week events, which will include an opportunity to join Friday’s prayer call at 2:30 p.m. EST.

This Earth Week is an opportunity to continue our Easter celebration by participating in God’s redemption of all of creation through our witness and our prayers. As another famous hymn reminds us, “all thy works shall praise thy name, in earth and sky and sea.” Amen.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, The (Un)Common Good: How the Gospel Brings Hope to a World Divided will be released in paperback this spring. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

Photo: Sun shines through trees in rocky valley. Via Mark Poprocki/Shutterstock.

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