God's Word for today

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Should Christians care about global warming?

In response to a District initiative for the Church to start tackling the whole climate change and "global warming" issue, I decided to kick off the awareness thereof in our Circuit with a sermon on this issue this past Sunday.

Using as my text Psalm 24: 1 - "The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it" - I outlined the phenomena of climate change and global warming, and then went onto how the Church should respond.

However, it seems that many in the Church have had negative views about this topic. These views range from the whole issue being a complete myth, to being something "New-Age" to being a Satanic deception aimed at taking our eyes of Christ!

This extract from Sunday's message expands on this "anti" view:

But unfortunately Christians have had a rather lukewarm reception to the problem of climate change and global warming. When I was doing research in preparation for this morning’s message, I did a search on the Internet for topics such as “Christians and Global Warming”, “Christian Stewardship”, “Green Churches”, and similar topics. Most of the Christian sites that came up in the search had a somewhat negative reaction to environmental issues.

Firstly, there is what I call the “apathetic group” – those Christians who simply do not care and do not see any real connection between their faith and the idea of saving the planet. Their attitude is that faith in Jesus Christ is about saving humanity, spiritually speaking – not the planet.
Others take a fundamental view that Jesus’ second coming is imminent – that it will happen very soon. Therefore, their view is that global warning is a sign of His coming, and there is therefore a view that we really can’t do anything in this matter to make things better. This thinking leads to the belief that there is no point in “saving the planet”, and that doing so is somehow working against Jesus’ return! The late Jerry Falwell, a right-wing evangelical leader in the US went so far as to state that “the myth” of global warming is “Satan's attempt to redirect the church's primary focus”.
In fact, if popular media is anything to go by, there are more New Age believers and atheists defending the green attitude than there are Christians. This is because most New Age belief systems include the belief in (equal) sanctity of all life, a belief in Gaia Mother Earth, and similar beliefs that inspire them to action. Atheists, on the other hand, believe that this world, however bad and imperfect, is the only world we have. So whatever we feel, we better do something about it or we will simply cease to exist as a human race!

If you don’t believe John 3: 16’s statement that “whosoever believes in Him [being Jesus] will not perish but have eternal life”, you would naturally have a very strong motivation to preserve this life and this world!

I would however think that even if the scientists are completely wrong concerning this issue, even a cursory understanding of Genesis 1 will surely conclude the following:
  • God's glory and power is expressed through His act of creation.

  • At each stage of creation, God looked at what He had created, and saw "that it was good".

  • Humankind was created to exercise stewardship over the earth and its resources.

  • While humankind was given permission to make use of the earth's resources for their own benefit, one can clearly deduce from God's charge to humankind that this was not a licence to exploit such resources to extinction or to the detriment of the planet.

In light of the above, even if one concludes that the whole global warning threat is just a whole lot of hot air, there surely cannot be any harm in taking better care of this wonderful world in which we live.

I also can't see that cutting down on use of energy (whether this is electricity, fuel in our vehicles, or any other form), making a more conscious effort to recycle, embarking on clean-up projects, planting trees, and growing your own vegetables would be incompatible with our Christian witness.

If we are wrong, at least our environment will be a little bit cleaner. But if we are right, our efforts will have helped preserve something for future generations.

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