So nature has its needs, that’s a lesson learned
But it appears to me there are greater concerns
Cause we can save the planet
Thinkin’ we will somehow survive
But father time is calling us
To save somebody’s life
These lyrics (taken from the song For Future Generations by 4Him) reflect a larger faultline. It comes from the desire to have things break down into a dichotomy ; a choice between two options. Such a thing is easy to evaluate – of course, saving someone’s life by sharing the Gospel is more important than the environment! But that isn’t the choice we’re being offered by Our Lord.
One could make this argument about anything. ‘What’s more important… hygiene or the Gospel? Food or the Gospel? Sleep or the Gospel? Being a good father or the Gospel?’ and so on, until we find very little of the Gospel left beyond sharing the ‘text’ of the good news. Rather, part of the Gospel is how we live and embodied in our choices. ‘See how they love each other!’ early enemies of Christians were reported to have said, and this in turn translated into concern for eternal matters.
Sharing the Gospel does not necessitate ruining the environment (and I don’t think 4Him intended to suggest such a thing.) Nor does noting a Christian duty to care for the environment as part of our charge of stewardship over all Creation automatically imply a lessened concern for the wellbeing of souls. God Himself gives this command to the first humans:
Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Genesis 1:28b)
This command tells us to care for the environment, to be good rulers over it. Christians are not exempt from this calling. We are called to a wholistic life of faith that encompasses all we do and say. If we were to live this, then perhaps people might say of us, ‘See how these Christians love the environment!’ instead of associating neglect for the environment with certain Christian groups. One creates an opening to share faith, the other closes it. There will always be larger concerns than the small, day to day things we can do to make our world a better place. But a larger concern doesn’t mean we ought to stop living the Gospel in order to preach it.