Climate Change 2

Following our recent series on climate change our Ignite youth group were thinking about what they can do to help reduce their environmental footprint. They were tasked with using this calculator as a measure and they’re also hoping to make some suggestions about how we can do better as a church! Of course the whole subject raises important questions about how to approach this issue and a few do’s and dont’s based on our group discussion may be helpful.

Do….

Recognise the issue. Although it seems strange the issue is sometimes ignored although it’s becoming much harder to do that now. This can also happen in Christian circles. Why be concerned about a planet that is burning up and will be replaced with something new? (2 Peter 3:10).

One possible reason (although not all may agree) is that the renewal of the earth has begun already in Jesus Christ and we are to be part of that (2 Cor 5:17). Perhaps a clearer reason is because God cares  for His planet (Lev 25:1-7) and human beings have a special role to play in looking after it (Genesis 1:28).

Link it to social justice. In the video series that we used the impact of climate change on poorer countries was brought home to us. Climate change is not just about the environment but is also about poverty and injustice. This is because poorer countries deal with climate change on top of significant existing issues and rely more heavily on the land for crops and food. So it is a threat multiplier (to use the jargon).

We don’t face this in the same way in the west and so we are much better placed to deal with climate change and address this injustice. However it’s also easier to ignore the issue as it doesn’t have the same effect upon our daily lives as it does on those living elsewhere in the world which in turn makes it all the more of a threat to these places.

We should link the issue to social justice to remind us that we can either help to alleviate the injustice or make it worse. (Micah 6:8).

Something. The issue can seem so big as to be unresolvable so we end up doing nothing about it. Yet by making small simple choices we can do something and make a difference. This also came across strongly in our video series.  We don’t need to move heaven and earth to play our part.

Embrace the good news of Jesus Christ and share it. Creation will one day be renewed (Romans 8:18-22) as will the people of God (Revelation 21).  There is a link between both and this comes about as people embrace the gospel and are transformed to serve God in the world as we rush towards the new age upon Christ’s return. People who are transformed by God often become people of love and care both for one another and the world we live in.

Do not…

Feed on the fear. Apparently climate change is one of the top worries for young people. Primary aged children are scared that the world will end soon. The birth rate in the U.K. is dropping as people choose not to bring children into this terrible world.

Some of the extremism around climate change fosters a spirit of fear yet the world has always been a scary place and God  has always been sovereign. We are to continue to multiply (Genesis 1:28) and the Lord instructs us on what to do with fear (Psalm 23) and worry (Matthew 6:25-34)

Think too highly of ourselves. The spirit of our age is one in which we believe we can solve our problems without God and this includes saving the planet.  However we can’t be our own saviour and this applies to the exalted view that we alone are responsible for saving the planet that He currently sustains (Hebrews 1:3).

We should be concerned but we need reminded that we can make a Babel out of anything (Genesis 11) and to be overly confident in our ability to fix this may in the end turn out to be yet another unhelpful burden on everyone. Boris Johnson recently called Cop26 a turning point for humanity but for Christians the turning point for humanity (and creation) was the cross of Christ. (Col 1:19-20).

Use blame as a weapon. The gospel reminds us that the problems of climate change exist because of human sin. The problem then is not so much out there but in here and we are each responsible and in that sense we can’t easily play the blame game. I have to be honest and say that when it comes to climate change some of the rhetoric and criticism of our previous generation seem quite distasteful and hypocritical. I don’t blame my Gran or my Aunt for wrecking the planet as they faced tougher times than our current generation. Furthermore they lived in a period when their  environmental impact was less than many of us today who are carted around in cars, fly way more often and use much more energy on the latest gadgets.

Mock our leaders. Politicians and world leaders have a tough task in dealing with climate change and they need our prayers rather than being mocked. Living as a Christian involves imagining what it would be like to be in another’s shoes and responding with grace. I wonder how we would get on if we were tasked with saving the planet.