Even a few hundred years ago when the Evangelical Fellowship was founded, most people did not travel very far from where they were born.
Choices regarding education, career and marriage were few, and people knew maybe a few hundred people personallyduring their lifetime.
Most food was locally grown and news about world events was minimal too. In fact, many choices about life were limited.
Today I have seemingly endless personal choices. I can wake up in Ireland and be in London or New York by lunchtime. I can work from my dining table and “meet” people from all over the world on Zoom or social media.
I can’t buy milk directly from the farm across the street, but I can buy Sri Lankan bananas from my local store or have a new coffee machine delivered to my house within hours.
It’s a gross understatement, but over the past few hundred years, if not decades, we have experienced changes in everyday life that are unprecedented in terms of speed and magnitude.
Unprecedented opportunity yes, but also a time of contradiction and confusion where technology, consumerism and individualism shape our humanity and our planet, in a way that we are only beginning to understand.
At this time, the “Conference of the Parties”, or COP27, takes place in Egypt. This annual event is where world leaders and environmental and climate change experts meet to negotiate new resolutions.
Although 30 years have passed since the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, it is only seven years since the first legally binding treaty on climate change was concluded in Parisin 2015.
This year, the main objective of the policy remains immediately reduce global emissions and cap global temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius within this century.
However, there is also negotiations on adaptation and resilience, justice and financial reparationsand a new commitment to a five-year global stocktake to inform future COP sessions.
Beyond the details, the title warnings are clear; phrases such as “climate chaos” and “red alert” are not limited to the tabloids.
Addressing the summit, the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterreswarned that the “the global fight against climate change will be won or lost in this crucial decade on our watch.” He didn’t stop there, using a biblical (and lyrical soft rock) image that “mankind is on a road to climatic hell.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has decreed that “the world now finds itself in extraordinarily dangerous territory.”
It all sounds apocalyptic – especially in the original Greek sense of the word, which is to uncover or shake the foundations. The the artificial bubble of capitalism and consumerism of the past decades has burst.
We simply cannot continue to live in a system that forces us to buy more things we don’t need with more money we don’t have. It is destroying our humanity and our planet.
So how do we respond to these real and pressing existential concerns as followers of Jesus? How can we develop and bear witness to a healthy and holy hope?
As Christians, we believe in the good news of Jesus and his promise to restore and renew all things in this beautiful but broken creation. This should allow us to worry less but worry more about climate change.
The Bible repeatedly calls us to worship, serve and appreciate the Lord God, our Father and Creator of this Earth.
Caring for creation is an inevitable part of our apostolate and witnessour mandate to pursue justice and good stewardship right now and in this place.
Loving God and Our Neighbors Well will require both small and extremely sacrificial changes in the way we live our daily lives.
Last year the Evangelical Fellowship produced a series of resources called Changing the Church: Climate Change. Here you will find many tips to help you and your church begin or continue to better care for creation.
Our friends at Tearfund have also produced this climate change toolkit for churches. You may also find very helpful this statement from Bread for the World: A Faithful Voice on Hunger and Climate Justice
So, take seriously the warnings given to us, repent of our personal and systematic greed, and serve the Lord and our neighbors with a joy and hope it’s both counter-cultural and contagious.
David Smith is the head of the Evangelical Alliance UK in Northern Ireland. This article was first published on the EAUK website and republished with permission.