With many of us hearing about climate change as an issue in the upcoming political elections, it’s easy to think of climate change primarily as a political issue. But it’s also an issue of faith.
Faith is how you live your life. Faith is based on the principles most dear to you that guide you and inform how you make decisions. Faith steers you on the course best for you personally and for those with whom you come in contact.
In the long history of Christianity, living life in a modest, frugal manner has always been a thing. Jesus himself lived off the hospitality of others and gleaned snacks from the land. We don’t see Christ callously tossing aside plastic water bottles and hauling around a bunch of “stuff” as he travelled the countryside preaching and teaching.
As Christianity developed, we saw the early disciples living communally, sharing freely what they had with others and taking no more than they really needed. Then we had the ascetics, dessert mothers and fathers, then monks and nuns living lightly on the land, living simply, living frugally.
Faith often requires us to take a long, hard look in the mirror. And we might not like what we see. In our twenty-first century America, we might see a wasteful people, creating mountains of trash, callously pitching away plastic packaging, paper, and food scraps that will go “somewhere” to pile up, embarrassingly unused and polluting the environment. We might see Christians among them, living anything but a frugal life and piling up more and more and more “stuff” in their homes without a thought to where it came from or where it will go when it leaves us.
I’m no saint, and Lord knows I’ve got my own “stuff” I need to recycle or just not buy or collect in the first place. You probably have your own pits of wastefulness and overindulgence, too.
I’m not asking you or myself to become an old school ascetic and give up all material possessions and forage your food off the land. But what I do ask myself and others to do is take just a few small steps on the road to a more godly, frugal, less wasteful life. At least recycle your aluminum cans. At least give your unused clothes to others. At least refill your water bottle instead of buying a case of “new” ones.
Faith is how you live your life, and the way of Christ is a way of living lightly on the land, sharing with others, and not bogging down your life with a lot of unneeded “stuff.”
Cynthia Coe is the author of creation care resources for adults, youth, and children. Her books Earth Our Garden Home, Wild Faith, and Considering Birds & Lilies are all available in print and e-book editions and included in Kindle Unlimited.