I was thumbing through John 16 this morning, literally, on my phone’s Bible application. Take that, everyone in the prayer room who thought I was texting. As I read John 16, It struck me how far Jesus’ description of the days to come are from our own experience…and often, our values.
Jesus gives us a clear heads-up about a crisis to come that almost no one wants to talk about, even as we flap our yappers about everything that we think the world wants to hear.
For example, the Christian environmental movement. (allow me a moment to don the nomex). I realize that I am about to step on toes here, but please know I’m only doing it so you’ll move your toes while you can.
Understand that I am not anti-environment or anti-environmentalist. I’m the first in my family line as far back as we can see who did not make their livelihood directly from the land. Farmers are among the most environmentally sensitive people you’ll find – abusing the land directly affects their pocketbook. I remember my dad refusing to use certain chemicals that would have boosted production short term but ultimately hurt the ground we lived on. I value the planet and think we should take care of what we’re given to steward. Biblically speaking, we’re going to be here a long, long time.
With this background, I’ve watched with bemusement as more and more conferences, etc., are dedicated to ‘creation care’, led by angst driven folks who insist that the most important thing the church could be about right now would be care of the planet we live on. Is it a real issue? Yes. Is it the issue that will be the end of us all? Not so much.
At the risk of being totally misunderstood – and all communicators run that risk – let me make the following statement:
We’re worrying about the temperature of the cow while completely oblivious to the fact that the barn is on fire.
Take a look at what Jesus said about the days to come.
“They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.”
Jesus’ teaching had a double-ring to it. Of course, He was speaking to His disciples, but He was also speaking to a forward generation of people who would be on the earth when the end would come. Are we that generation? We may be. If we’re not…perhaps our children? It’s not clear when….but it is clear that it will happen.
Before we face the destruction of the planet, before we deforest South America, before we are forced to drink from tin cups, having shut down all the Starbucks….before all of that, we will face a wave of religio-terrorism that will put true believers out of the places of worship and into the streets. What we see today as a battle between Islam and Christianity will ultimately spread to an uncivil war within those who would have once called themselves of the same kingdom. In Matthew, Jesus said that brothers would fight brothers, even unto the death. What is beginning as battle lines between two world views will end in a battle for control of the right to speak for Jesus.
Of course, for many people, this is a truth far too inconvenient to bear, and so they go on busying themselves with other cosmic sized issued more easily projected on the whole than wrestled with by the individual.
The environment is everyone’s problem – that makes it safe to talk about, even to take responsibility for. The murderous wave that Jesus prophesied gets very personal. It’s far easier to pretend it isn’t real.
People you and I know will fall to either side of the line and the most personal battle of all time will take place. Some will be put out of the conventional worship venues and those who do it will do it with a false sense of righteous dignity, believing that if they killed the perceived infidels, it would be a favor to the Good Lord Himself. Are we ready for that?
Forgive me if I’m scratching my head at the church’s new found fascination with being responsible with the planet, especially when she continues to be irresponsible by failing to address the harder things that Jesus told us were coming.
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