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Living "Green"

March 21, 2011

In the US we have luxury of debating whether or not climate change even exists, while much of the developing world is already living with the first effects of these shifts. In the South Pacific it’s the rising sea, in Bangladesh it’s devastating typhoons, in China it’s a lingering drought that threatens the harvest.

In Psalm 8 we are reminded that as humans not only were we crowned with glory and honor, but that also we were made rulers over the works of God’s hands. This is a huge responsibility, and one that I fear we often take too lightly.

As Christians it seems to me that we are falling short when it comes to maintaining the Earth God created for us. We have developed an attitude that climate change is yet another problem we can buy our way out of, and if you don’t believe me try to walk through a supermarket without finding a dozen products that claim to be “green”.

Being truly green though means changing your lifestyle, not your shopping list. I remember in my first week living in rural China, I accidentally left a lamp on in my apartment. Being one of the two Americans in town, somebody noticed. The next morning when I arrived in class I was chastised by several students for wasting electricity. Needless to say I am now compulsive about checking to make sure that extra lights are switched off. This is the kind of mindfulness that is required to begin making a dent in our carbon emissions.

In Matthew 25:41-46 Jesus warns those who ignore the cries of the hungry and the thirsty, saying “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” Today there are stories here of “cancer villages” where pollutants from local factories have turned the water given to the thirsty into poison, and the food left over for the hungry makes them ill. These pollutants are the by-product of the products we buy.

Our actions and inaction all have results far beyond the ones we see. I hope that as Christians we will hear God’s call for us to be stewards of this world he gave us.

Our lives in America separate us from the poor in the rest of the world, I challenge you to experience the ways in which the rest of the world lives without the kilowatts we demand:

-Wash all of your dishes by hand, with cold water for a week

-Don’t use your car for an entire weekend, but maintain your usual schedule

-Walk to the store, and only buy what you can carry home

- As a family use no more than one light in your home at a time

Tom Morse

Tom Morse serves with the Amity Foundation of China as an English teacher.

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