In Following Jesus in a Warming World (IVP, Feb.), Meyaard-Schaap, vice president of the Evangelical Environmental Network, talks about Christian perspectives on climate change.

You note that the warming environment is disproportionately harming those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. How do you see that as key from an evangelical perspective?

Jesus says the most important thing we can do is to love our neighbor, and here, that means loving our neighbor as if their future climate prospects are our own. Climate change is fundamentally unfair, with winners and losers—disabled folks, people of color, people on the margins. Jesus had the most compassion for people society pushed to the margins, and we see climate change pushing particular people to the margins. I don’t know how to love my neighbor in a warming world without fighting for their right to a stable climate.

Are there any new insights you gained about Christianity while writing the book?

It deepened my understanding of the command to care for God’s creation, and take seriously how climate change threatens all God’s creation. This lesson isn’t tucked away at the beginning of Genesis. When you look at the meta-narrative of what God’s doing in creation, it’s not window dressing—it’s the main character.

Are there any ways your idea for the book changed as you were writing it?

I hadn’t anticipated it being so personal. I put in quite a bit of my own story, as an archetype for a generation of millennial evangelicals who grew up in a church largely silent about climate change. Growing up, I had to do the work of integrating environmental activism into my faith mostly by myself; there were others on the journey with me, but no institutional framework provided by the church. The book is also dedicated to my sons, who are four years old and 10 months old. If they live the typical lifespan of a white male in America, they’ll see the year 2100. That’s a benchmark we’re always using in climate talks—keeping warming below two degrees Celsius by 2100—and that really caught me short.

You discuss anxieties of speaking up about environmental issues on an individual level, to people within social, political, and religious communities that might not look kindly on it. Now that the book is nearly out, how do you feel about its reception?

I’ve learned that this work comes with negative reactions—most of the time it’s anger, fear, mistrust of change. This has also been a hard message for a lot of the evangelical church to hear, and it continues to be. I’m encouraged that even within the past 10 years, I’ve seen a sea change. The reaction now is steeped in more good faith, especially among younger folks. And that’s primarily who this book is for.