We live in a time where many people are focused upon, fearful of and worried about climate change. Some are convinced that all life on earth is going to end in twelve years and others are convinced that while my generation will die of old age their generation will die of climate change. In this lesson I wanted to offer some perspective and hope into this discussion.
God Will Close the Book not Man
When I was young the great fear was not global warming, in fact, a number of scientists at the time warned of global cooling, that is, we were on the verge of entering another Ice Age. Yet the overriding fear of the time was nuclear war. Someone in Russia or America would push the button on purpose or accidentally and that would be the end of human life on earth. I remember being very fearful of this happening when I was a child, and Hollywood did not help, for they made one movie after another depicting such an event, or the supposed after effects. What really helped me when I became a Christian, was the following verse. It is a promise that God gave to Noah after the flood:
- “While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22).
- So man will not bring life on this planet to an end.
- The Bible clearly pictures people on this planet when Jesus arrives and living relatively normal lives (1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3).
- The planet will have an end, but it will be the end that God has planned (2 Peter 3:9-10).
What to Fear/Or Be Preoccupied With
- “I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that have no more they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!” (Luke 12:4-5).
This statement from Jesus has really helped me. It is so easy to spend a good portion of your time fearing all the lesser things, or even what might ever happen. In the past I spent a lot of time fearing things that never happened, like a nuclear holocaust or being buried alive. In our own time man is constantly reminding us of horrible things that might happen. We are told to worry about the “big one”, some huge earthquake that will decimate Portland, a tidal wave that will destroy the cities along the Oregon Coast. Or some disease with no known cure will quickly spread because of modern air travel and kill 90 percent of the people on earth. Yet Jesus reminded us that none of this should be our real concern. When it comes to climate change, as a Christian I am saddened that so much energy is focused on something that even Scientists cannot fully agree on whether it is happening, or if it is, what is actually causing it (man or just a natural cycle the earth goes through from time to time), and even if global warming is a bad or a good thing. All the while ignoring what is actually going to happen. You see, the big one in Portland may or may not happen. The huge tidal wave may or may not happen, but it is absolutely true that Jesus can show up at anytime and the final judgment will take place (Matthew 25:31-34). And the vast majority of people on the planet are woefully unprepared for this event.
The Great Commandments
- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind’. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
One of my concerns with the modern environmental movement is that it seems unconcerned or blind in reference to the two great commandments.
- In this movement I see many people making the mistake of worshipping the Creation instead of worshipping the Creator (Romans 1:25).
- The other thing that really concerns me is how many people in this movement feel that everything would be a lot better on this planet if most of the people were gone. That there is an element of the movement that appears to be very “anti-man”. That is sad, because man is the most important being on this planet, and how I treat other people is absolutely vital. In fact, we will be judged based on how we treated other people (Matthew 25:34ff).
- “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!” (Matthew 12:12).
- “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs on your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6-7).
- When Jesus arrived, He came to seek and save the lost, that is, lost men and women (Luke 19:10).
- So in light of such verses and many more I have a hard time lending credibility to the views that come from an individuals who have a disdain for mankind.
The Pollution that is Frequently Forgotten
My other concern with many in the environmental movement is that they appear blind to the most dangerous kind of pollution, the kind that can actually remove people from the land they are occupying:
In Leviticus chapter 18 God warns Israel concerning the people who were presently in the land of Canaan. Among other things, these people were practicing incest, adultery, homosexuality and child sacrifice. God then says, “Do not defile yourselves by any of these things; for by all these the nations which I am casting out before you have become defiled. For the land has become defiled, therefore I have brought its punishment upon it, so the land has spewed out its inhabitants” (Leviticus 18:24-25).
So the pollution or defilement that can actually bring an end to a nation or empire is when a nation turns from God and the sins of the people cause the land to spew them out. This principle did not just apply to Israel, for in this section God is reminding Israel that the sins of the Canaanites (unbelievers) ended up causing the land to reject them. We see the same principle in Genesis 15:16. Thus it is easy to forget that my sins are more dangerous to the land or culture than even plastic bags.
The Bible frequently reminds us that if we profess to be Christians then we need to live like it, that inconsistently between our profession and behavior can turn people off from even consisting Jesus (1 Timothy 5:14; Titus 2:7-10; 1 Peter 2:12-16). No one enjoys being preached to by the Christian who is not really practicing what they preach. In like manner, I have a hard time listening to someone lecture me about the environment:
- When the energy they use to heat or maintain their mansion is more in a month than I spend in a year to maintain my home.
- When they are traveling around in a private jet, and yet lecturing me about driving my car.
- When they have to have the latest electronic device, new clothes every season, or lots of Christmas presents rather than using what they have until it actually needs to be replaced.
The planet belongs to God (Psalm 24:1) and God placed us here as stewards (Genesis 1:28).
So How is My Stewardship?
- Am I using my time wisely? Ephesians 5:16
- Am I using my opportunities to spread the gospel? Colossians 4:5
- Am I rightly maintaining and being a good steward of the relationships that God has given me? 1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 6:4
- Am I loving my neighbor as myself? Matthew 7:12
- Do I control my tongue? James 3:6
- Am I refusing to pollute the land with my own sins, verbal and otherwise? James 1:26-27
Mark Dunagan | firstname.lastname@example.org
Beaverton Church of Christ | 503-644-9017