Dear Marketplace Friend,
A few years ago, I struck up an interactive relationship with a man who frequented the same early-morning coffee oasis with almost-daily faithfulness. Based on our morning seating proximity, we observed - over time - the kinds of things read and embraced by the other. He was more NY Times; I was more New Testament. We were friendly... without crossing over into friendship.
One morning, he fired a test missile over my coffee cup. There was some current flap over some Christian leader on his front page, and it drew a comment from me. His response - the missile - was: "You're one of those evangelicals, aren't you? I think I know more about what you guys are against than I do about what you're for." Talk about an opening: I told him that he was insightful... and spent some time that day and subsequent days getting into what we evangelicals are for. He was informed... but, with me, never converted.
Last weekend, you would have needed a virtual coma to miss the news of the Live Earth concerts. Claiming 2 billion participants - some live, most via media - spread over eight encampments, it was the huge public event for SOS. "The message of the SOS campaign is that everyone, everywhere can and must Answer the Call to solve the climate crisis" (direct quote, from their website).
Answer the Call. That's their headline appeal. Click on that imperative, and you're taken to their decision page, outlining the actions involved in Answer(ing) the Call. "I will... change four light bulbs... ride public transportation or car pool... shop for energy efficient (items)... forward a Live Earth e-mail message to five friends... shut off my equipment and lights when I'm not using them... add my name to the Live Earth pledge. Wait a minute: Live Earth Pledge? The pledge takes it from novitiate-level to deep dedication. Seven statements that begin with: 1) To demand... 2) To take personal action... 3) To fight... 4) To work... 5) To fight... 6) To plant... 7) To buy... No soft expectations from their disciples; they're out to Save the Planet (not the people, but, rather, the planet). They're a movement with growing intensity...
Al Gore is their Billy Graham. In settings reminiscent of Mr. Graham's Crusades, their music on Saturday intended to move the crowd's hearts, while the messages were intended to direct the crowd's wills. So, the Question: am I against "Saving the Planet?" Is there a moral deficiency in car pooling, or changing my light bulbs, or turning off my computer when I turn my attention away? As an Evangelical Leader, is Al Gore my enemy? Is SOS something that we should oppose??
While Al and Snoop Dogg and Bon Jovi and Red Hot Chili Peppers were preaching against Global Warming - with "success" defined as recruiting converts to Answer the Call! - Franklin Graham and a bunch of talented musicians - singing in Russian and Ukrainian - were preaching against Going to Hell (that's warming, on a personal, eternal level) to the 231,622 people who assembled in Kiev and across Ukraine. At the end of each of three evenings, people were invited to Answer the Call! What did that involve?
SOS gave two lists of "works" required to "join the movement" (see above). Franklin gave the same short list that Jesus and his Apostles gave: repent of your sins, believe the Gospel, and accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Personal Savior.
How many "converts" did Gore recruit? I have no access to those numbers. But, the people in Ukraine who came, prayed and gave their names numbered 6,853. Now, they're going to heaven.
Two thoughts, from this summation of mine, from the Global Weekend:
1) You could keep all the points of the Save the Earth law... and find yourself in a Godless eternity.
2) Each of us has limited time, talent and treasure to manage in this lifetime. As a Christian, I have been left here with instructions to save the people, not to save the planet. My capacities are limited... but they are powerful, if focused. I'll be careful in the way I occupy the planet, but I'll be even more careful to keep the Main Thing the Main Thing... and invite people to escape the Fires of Judgment that await those who do not Answer the Call of the Gospel...