søndag 16. desember 2007

Modern prophets?

Last week we saw Al Gore and Rajenda Pachauri receive the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.
In some ways they remind me of the prophets we find in the Bible – perhaps with the slight difference that the prophets in the Bible didn’t get thousands of dollars for their performances…
Al Gore has been in the news for many years because he has been preaching a very serious message. He’s been preaching judgment over humanity if we don’t change our lifestyle. Isn’t it time for evangelical Christians to start listening to his message?

Prepare the way
You could say that Al Gore has prepared the way for a change in lifestyle.
John the Baptist too talked about preparing the way. Other than that, there are probably not so many more similarities between him and Al Gore.

John prepared the way for the Lord. He was the forerunner of the Messiah, foretold by the prophets of the Old Testament. Isaiah chapter 40 is one of those prophecies. The immediate horizon of that prophecy is the political situation in the Middle East at the time, with the people of Israel in captivity in Babylon, present-day Iraq. Isaiah proclaimed freedom from the captivity in Babylon. Jesus proclaimed freedom from the captivity of sin.

The Babylonian captivity of the earth
One could say that the earth is in a Babylonian captivity of a lifestyle that causes destruction in the form of climate change. I still believe that it is the primary purpose of the church to proclaim the gospel of salvation from sin as we wait for the Lord to return. But Evangelical Christians, like me, have a tendency to think that things like the earth and climate change don’t really matter, since Jesus is coming back and everything will disappear anyway. When Jesus one day returns, I want him to be proud to see that his people have been among the first to take care of the world he created. In the same way that we want to be free from the captivity and slavery of sin, we must free the earth from the captivity of a destructive lifestyle.

What Gore and Pachauri tell us is not all together new.
More than thirty years ago, in 1974, Billy Graham took the initiative to gather 2700 Evangelical Christian leaders from across the world in the city of Lausanne in Switzerland. The focus of the conference was world evangelisation. At the conference they agreed on the Lausanne Covenant, which still serves as a basis for many Evangelical organisations today. Article 6 ends like this: “Those of us who live in affluent circumstances accept our duty to develop a simple life-style in order to contribute more generously to both relief and evangelism.” What is new in the message from Gore and Pachauri is the emphasis on climate change. It is a message we have heard clearer and clearer the last few years. Some of us – including me – have been hesitant to the reality of the warnings. Perhaps it’s time we start to listen and act. Choosing a simpler lifestyle is one way each of us can start acting.

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