Summer Heat Reminds Me What Following Jesus is All About
BioLogos President Deb Haarsma chimes in on summer heat waves, splooting animals, and how the changing climate is impacting everyone.
Have you seen the pictures of the splooting animals? They look kind of cute, all flopped out with their bellies on the ground. Until you consider that most mammals don’t sweat, and so sometimes the only way for them to cool off is to lie on the cool soil. This actually makes me feel thankful for the ability to sweat!
It’s just so hot right now. And our body’s internal mechanism of cooling us down with sweat doesn’t seem to be enough in this heat! Major portions of the U.S. are sweltering in the heat. Much of the west is suffering under a “heat dome,” and the humid southeast has had record breaking temperatures. And it’s not just the United States. Many places around the northern hemisphere are experiencing brutal heat waves, including a heat dome across Europe and wildfires in Greece.
I’ve lived in the northern U.S. my whole life, where people rarely die from heat. So it is especially disturbing to see the summer headlines filled with news of heat-related deaths, including over a dozen in Phoenix, and ten elderly near Laredo, TX without access to air conditioning. Most U.S. adults, including most evangelicals, agree that the Earth is getting warmer. However, the seriousness of the situation is not always obvious. The heatwave this summer really brings this home. The heat is noticeably worse this year.
Across the U.S., Europe, Africa, and Asia, records are being broken for the hottest temperatures and the longest heat waves. Along with wildfires, storms, and flooding, the increase in extreme weather is a vivid reminder that the climate really is changing. The scientists who have been studying the atmosphere for decades tell us about the manmade blanket of carbon dioxide that is building up around the Earth and trapping in heat, and that the trapped heat will lead to extreme weather. It’s no longer just predictions—we’re living in it.
Most U.S. adults, including most evangelicals, agree that the Earth is getting warmer. However, the seriousness of the situation is not always obvious. The heatwave this summer really brings this home.
We need to do more to protect our families and communities. As Christians, we have a special call from Jesus to care for the least of these—the poor, children, the elderly, the homeless, and the sick (Matthew 25: 31-46). And these are exactly the people who are suffering and will continue to suffer the most from extreme weather. The poor have less access to air conditioning, and low-income jobs are more often outdoors. In cities, shade trees are more common in wealthier neighborhoods, while low income neighborhoods are often in urban heat islands that suffer several degrees of higher temperatures.
How do we live out our call from Jesus to care for the least of these? It can start with a simple prayer. Or perhaps we may need time to lament the climate crisis and all its impacts. But our grief shouldn’t lead us to despair, but rather hope in Christ—we don’t have to fear, but can focus on faithfully following what he has called us to do.
The good news is that there are actions we can all take that will mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable. We can be mindful of our own energy usage and make changes in our lifestyles. We can drive less, take fewer plane flights, and eat less meat. We can work for solutions in our communities, whether public or private sector. We can talk with our friends and churches about the increase in severe weather. The changing temperature of the Earth is impacting our families, our neighbors, and the people Jesus calls us to love. We need to make sacrifices to help others and our planet; this is what following Jesus is all about.
Jesus help us to follow you in our warming world. Help us to be more like you in what we say and do, and reflect your heart for our planet and our neighbors who inhabit it. Let us not overlook the signs of distress around us, from summer heat waves to splooting animals. And let us not so easily get dismayed. May we put our hope in you, and root our actions in that hope. In Jesus name, Amen.
Jesus help us to follow you in our warming world. Help us to be more like you in what we say and do, and reflect your heart for our planet and our neighbors who inhabit it.
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At BioLogos, “gracious dialogue” means demonstrating the grace of Christ as we dialogue together about the tough issues of science and faith.
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