A very good friend of mine marched on the Houses of Parliament in London the other day. Not alone, you understand, but as part of the wave of demonstrations urging governments to get serious at the Copenhagen climate change summit and to reach a meaningful agreement that will start (just start) to save the world from climate change catastrophe.
A conservative guide to climate change
(Let me digress to say that if you are not entirely convinced that climate change is a problem that should be taken seriously (and you would not be alone) then I suggest you read this question-and-answer-style article from the Daily Telegraph, possibly the most conservative of British newspapers).
My friend is a Christian who takes part in leading worship in her local church. To her and a rapidly increasing number of believers around the world saving the planet by urging politicians to take climate change seriously is part and parcel of God’s calling to look after the world, be good neighbours and care for the poor. The strange thing is that it has taken so long for Christians as a group to get involved.
Christians slow to embrace Genesis teaching
The march in London, which involved 20-40,000 people, went under the banner of The Wave. The Wave was organised by the Stop Climate Chaos Coalition, whose website lists quite a lot of Christian organisations as partners. Some are churches or Christian communities – The Church of Scotland, the Quakers and The Iona Community for example. Some are church aid and development agencies – Christian Aid, CAFOD, TearFund. Some are specifically ecology organisations – Operation Noah, Christian Ecology Link. Around Christianity something seems to have stirred.
Many would say it’s about time too. After all, Genesis2:15 tells us that God put mankind here to look after this place. Individual Christians may have been doing their bit for a long time but congregations and church groupings have been remarkably slow to come to the party. There are probably all sorts of reasons for this – a reluctance to take political sides, a vague feeling that it shows a lack of trust in God, a lack of realization that this is an issue that is impacting first on the world’s poorest communities.
Will Christians make a difference?
The issue in the USA is a bit deeper than in Europe. Many American churches long ago allied themselves with right-wing groups in a fight against perceived moral ills, and so have come in to contact with a range of right-wing agendas including those seeing the climate change problem as a communist hoax. For American Christians to come to the climate change battle therefore takes a lot more will than for European Christians.
As well as Christians joining the campaigns, congregations throughout the world are attempting to do their own small bit by saving energy and recycling. Will Christians make a difference? It’s impossible to say because nothing about this fight is clear except for the threat. But God doesn’t ever call us to win – he calls us to be righteous. We can each only do our bit.