Probably the criticism I get most as a preacher (and on this blog) is, “why are you so negative? We know there are problems in the world, but we can’t do anything about that. We come to church to feel better.”
I certainly understand that feeling. John the Baptist used to be my least favorite figure in scripture. I like happy thoughts as much as anyone, but here’s the problem. Our current level of consumption as a nation has put us on a collision course with catastrophe that no pleasant words can prevent. We either change course or we will bring enormous suffering into the world. When I look into the faces of our children I am overcome with grief for the world we are giving them. Would we rather be comfortable in worship, than be transformed into agents of their best interests?
And, in looking at our own children, I cannot help but think of the children of the world our nation puts in harm’s way. Who will be their voice in a nation that does not want to hear? If we realized they have the same worth as our own children, would be not be crying from the roof tops?
So some weeks I do sound a bit like John the Baptist. I am not trying to make people feel bad, but I still believe there is a chance to save our planet if we are willing to change ourselves. The Hebrew word for “repent” simply meant to “turn.” Feeling quilty wasn’t the point, the point was to change direction.
I have no idea whether it is too late to prevent climate disaster, but I do know that choosing to join the struggle for the earth, for the animals and for our human family, will give us noble lives regardless of what happens. I do not see this position as pessimistic, it is simply the reality we have inherited. I do not mean to be negative, I just believe our chances of facing this crisis are infinitely better with our eyes wide open.