At a recent dinner, I met someone really enthusiastic about church. They were one of those people who can, and will, slide the topic of church into almost any conversation—particularly if there are non-church people around. I’ve sometimes wondered if, as a Christian, that’s the sort of thing I should do.
Over the course of the meal my new friend mentioned church about eight times before we started talking about climate change and what our response should be. Having raised church so much, the next few words from my friend would be perceived as being the Christian response.
Suddenly I can see purpose in being the enthusiastic church person. When topics like these come up, it gives an opportunity to explain how faith influences action. To show how faith inspires us to be better people. To demonstrate how faith makes a practical difference in everyday life. In Christian language: discipleship. So what would I have said?
Believing in God, and loving God, means having a responsibility to take care of the creation left in our hands. The creation we praise him for, we should also protect. For me this means less time in arguments on how life began, and more time saving it from being destroyed.
Jesus said to love God and to love others—not just a little, but to love others as we love ourselves. I’d never want to experience the devastating impacts of climate change myself, so I can’t say I love my neighbour and then live in ways that make people suffer—particularly the poor.
For geographic and economic reasons, climate change hits poor nations the hardest. The Christian faith is very strong about helping the poor and vulnerable. Society may talk about doing “our fair share”, meaning no more than others, but Jesus talks about the Good Samaritan—a person who does all they can, even when others do nothing.
There’s also great joy in this. Many of the things that help “save the planet” are also things that help me feel closer to God and to my fellow human beings.
I wish I was articulate enough to have said these things at dinner that night. If each of us took this message to heart, it would show we do not just attend church but that we also apply the gospel to our lives. I think that’s who I want to be. I think that’s discipleship.
David’s blog can be found at convenientsolutions.blogspot.com