What Conservative Christians Are Missing In the Climate Change Debate

President Trump’s recent decision to abandon the Paris climate accord has many people on the left and the right screaming. I have to confess that I’m tired of the political railing from both sides of the political spectrum. I want to be concerned with things far deeper. Yet, as a Christian concerned first with the Great Commission rather than my secondary conservative political views I think there is something that conservative Christians are missing regarding climate change. Before someone writes to me about the science being settled or scammed, I hope that you, if you are a Christian conservative, will take this one thing to heart. There is an opportunity before us regarding climate change that goes beyond the political, environmental, and economic issues of the day. There is something far more important here than these temporary things. Allow me to spell it out very simply.

Climate change proponents want to save the world.

Forget the facts or the alternative facts for a moment. This is about personal motivation. Yes, I’m sure there are some leaders in the climate change camp for whom understanding their motivation revolves around political power and following the money. I’m not concerned with that. I’m concerned with what motivates the average person. That average person. Your neighbor. My neighbor. Your friends. My friends. The fact is, most people believe in climate change. Most people have some level of concern about it. Most people want an earth they can live on, enjoy, prosper on, and pass on to the children and grandchildren they love. What is wrong with that?

Nothing. Nothing at all.

While the politically motivated are busy condemning one another for their respective views on climate change and politics, virtually nothing is happening to unify those people opposed to one another. We’re busy looking at the politics, following he trail of funding, and so on. Of all of the hundreds of articles, news stories, talk shows, and social media posts I’ve seen online in the last 24 hours I’ve not read a single one where someone, anyone, on one side or the other makes even the smallest attempt to honor the opponent on the other side. Including me. That’s wrong. I want to fix it. So, here’s my attempt, small as it may be.

I’m glad you want to save the world. I respect you for wanting to save the world. It’s a wonderful thing to have in your heart the desire to save the world. You should be honored for wanting to save the world.

Now, as a Christian concerned first with the Great Commission I want to take this conversation in a different direction. You see, I too, want to save the world. But my focus is spiritual. My concern is for your eternal destiny. I don’t think there’s a more important issue than that. But between the two of us, we share something in common and I see no reason why we can’t have a fruitful and mutually-honoring discussion of what saving the world looks like between us. You want to save the world by protecting the world. I want to save the world by saving you. You want to save the world by reversing man’s sins against the climate. I want to save the world by presenting the solution to sin, yours, mine, no matter what it is.

Slamming the climate change proponent over his or her views does nothing to advance our witness for Jesus Christ when it comes to demonstrating personal love and honoring another person. I’m not saying the other side isn’t guilty of the same thing. But we must not equate our stand as a Christian with contemporary political views like climate change. The climate change fanatic and skeptic both have the same spiritual needs. Therefore, we should be looking for ways to honor the other person and recognize their good desire, whether we agree with the means to that end or not.

The climate change proponent wants to save the world. I’m down with that. But can we go deeper? I guarantee that we can’t go deeper if we’re just railing against one another—unless you want to go deeper by digging a deeper hole of animosity out of which people can rarely climb. I’m going to keep my climate change opinions to myself. My opinion helps no one. But, I’m not going to keep personal transformation to myself. I think that can help anyone.

Respect. Honor. Humility. Love. These are the relational tools we should be using about climate change, or any other issue another person opposes us on. Because without these things we become, “A noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (I Corinthians 13:1). Look for a way to honor your opponents. Then maybe, just maybe, you might earn their ears. And perhaps even their hearts.

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