Global warming report: a call for all to care for God's creation
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Though global warming sounds like such a huge problem, and it seems as though no one can possibly make a difference, the situation is quite the opposite. Individuals, let alone churches and temples and mosques, can make a huge difference. Just do the simple things:Skip to next paragraph
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• Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. Though initially more expensive, an energy-efficient fluorescent bulb will save you $28 to $58 in your electric bill during its life and burn 500 pounds less coal to pollute the air!
• Recycle. C'mon: How hard can it be?
• Drive the speed limit with properly inflated tires and a tuned engine. Make your mom worry less.
• Ask for your energy company to do an energy audit on your house or church to tell you how you can lower your electric bills. You'll make money and be giving to others at the same time!
• Support businesses that are environmentally friendly.
• Vote and voice your concern about protecting the environment to government officials and those you are electing. I have no specific legislation to recommend, but you will know it when you see it!
• Pray that people and congregations and governments will do what is wise to care for the creation.
People can get so fixated on one issue that they become like a "noisy gong or a clanging cymbal." A fanatic has been defined as one who won't change his mind and won't let you change the subject. The environmental issue can become a substitute religion. Our faith has to do with obeying God and loving our neighbor. Hugging trees is not the point. Creation care is important to many Biblical themes we need to address, including sanctity of life, disease, poverty, and conflict.
Some conservative Christians have been reluctant to get involved with creation care because they think it belies some sort of failure of belief that God is going to take care of us. Of course those same Christians don't expect God to change their baby's dirty diaper (pray all you want, it's still your job). Caring for the Earth is not a lack of faith; it is an act of faith. Faith guides us to do what is good for others, knowing that the results are ultimately up to God.
I and other evangelical Christians teamed up with some of the leading scientists in America last month to declare how faith and science can complement each other to accomplish a common cause. Evangelicals need the scientists' facts; scientists need the evangelical constituency to participate in a solution. Each addresses a different aspect of the same challenge: science addresses the "what" and faith addresses the "why." Before I act, I need to know the facts and possible solutions. The "why," though, is what compels me to action.
Government, business, and science bring unique assets to help with global problems, but nothing motivates like religion. Cooperative work on the environment may prove to be a gateway to resolving other important issues such as peace, poverty, and human rights. Perhaps faith communities will begin as a matter of course to work with governments and businesses and scientists. I am convinced that no global problem will be solved in the future without grass-roots participation motivated by values, and worshiping congregations provide the most effective leadership to shape values.
• Joel C. Hunter, a senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed (www.northlandchurch.net), is author of "Right Wing, Wrong Bird: Why the Tactics of the Religious Right Won't Fly With Most Conservative Christians."