To pursue climate justice, we must pursue and follow the ways of Jesus. Jesus demonstrated comfort in suffering and hope in having overcome the world, past tense. Jesus’ death and resurrection fulfilled the promise that one day the world would be restored. When heaven and earth become one, all injustice would be eternally removed. But where in the life of Jesus can we see His heart for climate justice now?
On the cross, Jesus overcame both individual and systemic sin.
The focus on individual, ethical choices to live sustainably is part of the fight for climate justice. However, it can mask the deeper, long-term issues. Unjust systems are central to the problem, in the overconsumption of the West, investing in fossil fuels, the British Empire’s exploitation increasing inequality. All of these make climate injustice a lived reality for many.
The power of Jesus’ victory on the cross overcame the punishment of both personal sin and systemic and collective sin through His sacrifice. Now humankind can experience healing and freedom from this. We know the power of the cross in our lives, but how can it bring transformation to society too?
Jesus listened to and upheld marginalised voices.
Racial injustice is prevalent in climate justice as many Indigenous, Black and Brown young voices have been erased in favour of praising white climate activists. Vanessa Nakate, 23 year-old Ugandan climate activist and founder of @amillionactiviststories, , reminded us at MOCKCOP that “the global south is not on the front page but it is on the frontline”. She experienced just one example of erasure in favour of white activists when this time last year she was cropped out of a photo from the Davos conference. Four well-known white climate activists were kept in.
There are countless examples of Jesus listening and dignifying the voices of those marginalised in communities. Jesus himself was a marginalised voice as a brown-skinned Middle Eastern Jew and He taught with authority and brought life through His words. When seeking justice, are you listening to a diversity of voices and experiences?
Jesus asks us to be authentic in our pursuit of justice.
In the context of performative activism (surface level actions to appear that you are changing without long-term work), it feels appropriate to think about Jesus’ rebuke to the religious leaders of the time in Matthew 23:23-24:
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."
Jesus challenges the superficial tithing of the religious leaders. Even though it was consistent and followed the law, the religious leaders lacked the deeper practices of living justly, with mercy and faithfulness, that founded the law. The principles of the law are founded on love in Jesus transforming our hearts, not just our outward reputation.
In climate activism, are we balanced between individual choices and approaching solutions systematically?
Are we listening to the voices of those experiencing climate injustice?
Where are our hearts at when it comes to caring about restoring this world?
If you want to grow in seeking justice, but you’re not sure where to start, then why not try the Prophetic Activist Scheme! It’s a part-time 9-month scheme where young adult Christians co-create a climate justice campaign with Christian Aid. Our activists put their faith into action and are equipped in mentoring, training sessions and upskilling. It gives justice work community, as one of the 2020 activists said, “It was the beginning of my journey of not feeling alone being a Christian Activist”.
If you are interested in hearing more about our work with young adults, then please email email@example.com or find us on instagram @thecacollective' or visit our prophetic journey towards climate justice toolkit
Written by Anna Wooding, Christian Aid