A favorite children’s story is “Chicken Little,” which is about a naïve fowl who has the proclivity to believe the end of the world has begun as the result of some rather mundane event (in many tellings of this fable, an acorn falling out of a tree and hitting her on the head). Chicken Little begins to run to all her friends in order to warn them – quite hysterically – that the sky is falling and the world, therefore, is ending. All of her friends get worked into a tizzy, also, creating a mass hysteria. Ultimately, Chicken Little and all her friends end up facing the end of the world…but not because the sky was really falling.
Over the past few decades, it’s been interesting watching certain individuals take on a “Chicken Little” persona in regards to the issue of climate change. Politicians, scientists, those in the academy, journalists, and businesspeople have been saying for quite a while that we only have “X” number of years left if we don’t do something right this very instant. Of course, those so-called “line-in-the-sand” moments have come and gone, and we’re still here. In the 1970s, the warning was that if we did not change our ways, the earth would enter another ice age, bringing life as we know it to an end. In the 1990s and 2000s, the warning was that if we did not change our ways, the earth would increase in temperature, bringing life as we know it to an end. Now, global warming is still considered the likeliest result, but because the term has been met with skepticism (especially in places where the winter seems to go on and on…not mentioning any names, of course!), the preferred moniker is “climate change.” And according to a UN report issued in 2018, we only have until 2030 to change our ways or else we will have crossed the point of no return. At the time of the report, that would be just a short twelve years – a number that has found currency in recent speeches and interviews with various US politicians.
How should we respond to such statements? First, we must affirm the special responsibility that humanity has to look after and care for God’s creation. When God formed Adam, He placed the man in the Garden of Eden “to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). The secular worldview also asserts that we have a responsibility for caring for the earth, but there is no rationale for doing so in light of a materialistic view of the universe (that is, an agnostic/atheistic vantage point that asserts there is nothing beyond this life). However, the mandate to care for creation must not be elevated into a worshiping of creation. Second, we must recognize that the fear of “the end of the world” is a very real concern for many people, which opens the door for a Gospel conversation. We can affirm that there is a time coming – and very soon – when the world will end, but it will not be due to climate change. The Lord Jesus will return with “a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16) in order to judge humanity. If your faith is not in Christ at that moment, the results will be far more cataclysmic than any events seen in the movie, “The Day After Tomorrow”! It’s worth remembering that when God promises to bring judgment, He keeps His word (cf. Gen. 6-7).
Finally, we must remember to engage with those with whom we disagree with grace and love. Imagine how you might engage with what you see in the news, if you didn’t already know the end of the story! You see, we know what the end will be and we know how people can avoid the worst aspects of it. Instead of poking fun or becoming irritated with people who are deceived by those who wish to manipulate data for their own ends, let us share with them the Good News that when the end comes, they can be saved. Just something to think about…