In my book Re:Form, I spoke of what Jesus had referred to as “birth pangs.” Birth pangs were physical signs and symptoms which would occur on the earth as it enters its final days before Christ’s second coming. I can remember pondering these things as a young Christian in the 1970s and praying that if they occurred during my lifetime, I would not miss recognizing them for what they were. I remember reading a passage in 2 Peter 3 where people scoffed at such things and missed the opportunity to engage in the authentic Christian life at one of the most crucial moments in human history. Jesus warned His followers to keep their eyes and hearts open, to stay alert, to be ready, and to stand firm when they saw these events begin to manifest. My greatest fear in those days was that I might become complacent, listen to the wrong voices, or become desensitized to these signs when they finally began to occur.
A prophetic prediction in January 2017
When I wrote Re:Form over a year ago, I predicted there would be an awakening among the Millennial generation. I didn’t know what would cause it, but I prophetically stated that God would use some incident to ignite this generation out of its seeming slumber. This incident would undoubtedly be related to a birth pang-type crisis which could set them on a trajectory towards an unexpected spiritual revival. When this occurrence happens, the importance of it would be overlooked by much of the existing religious community. Specifically, a huge portion of the Evangelical world would not only miss seeing it, but reject and even deny its significance. The Millennials, on the other hand, would eventually not only respond to world crisis but engage with it as a catalyst to spread the Gospel to all nations. The environmental crisis, much of which would result from a warming world, would motivate them to participate in the global ministry of Jesus. Thousands of young Christ followers will respond to the calling and become His hands and feet for international ministries of compassion, justice, and mercy. By responding to this, they will not only engage in a world ravaged with violence and environmental calamity, but become an end-time generation obedient to the dissertation of Jesus in Mathew 24 & 25. In my mind, it is more than possible that the Millennials’ present response to the injustice of gun violence and school shootings could be the ignition point of this awakening. As this new cause builds momentum, it will move beyond the issue of gun control to the even greater issues of world crisis. As unabated global warming becomes a major contributing factor to the birth pangs Jesus spoke of, it will be used to catapult the emerging generation into engagement with compassion ministry. This will occur while many Evangelicals will tragically continue to refute its significance. Allow me to further explain this phenomenon with an excerpt from “Re:Form – The Decline of American Evangelicalism and a Path for the New Generation to Re:Form Their Faith.”
The words of the apostle Peter – scoffers will scoff
Peter wrote: “Above all, you must understand that in the last days’ scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4, NIV).
So then, who are the scoffers? Scoffers are people with smaller world views. They are often people who have a hard time comprehending and accepting that their world is changing. They would be ones, for example, who would deny climate change, saying the increase of weather devastation is caused by normal climate cycles, such as El Nino and La Nina, and has been going on since the creation of the world. El Nino and La Nina do impact weather on an annual basis, but they do not account for the gradual global temperature increase. One climatologist explained it with the visual imagery of an escalator. El Nino and La Nina are the stairs on an escalator that is constantly moving upward.
A huge portion of the world’s population now lives in large cities or residential areas where climate is artificially controlled. Much of that population, especially in the developed world, has become desensitized to changes in nature due to the presence of forced-air heat and air-conditioned environments. They are oblivious to a gradually changing climate and are unwilling to admit there is a problem caused by human overuse of fossil fuels, because it would threaten the comfortable American lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. Many would prefer living in denial, not only concerning the issue of climate change, but to other social concerns as well. If we acknowledge issues such as extreme poverty and social injustices of every kind, then we must accept responsibility to provide solutions. If we don’t, then we deeply bury our heads in the sand of complacency. Sadly, conservative Evangelicals are becoming identified as the leading scoffers and refuters of climate change in America today.
Why Evangelicals should be leaders not deniers
Climate change is a sanctity of life issue. It puts our entire planet in peril. When glaciers and polar ice melt, oceans rise. This, combined with storm surges, flood low-lying lands, and the first to suffer are the world’s poor. Throughout the developing world in places like Bangladesh, the poor are the ones forced to inhabit places others don’t value. In Bangladesh, low-lying farmland is already becoming unusable due to the intrusion of rising seawater. In many parts of the world, rising seawater is forcing the relocation of many, causing a new reason for refugee migration. Even in America, a changing climate is creating havoc. The climate’s warming trend is making wet places wetter and dry places drier. As oceans become warmer, climatic conditions fuel more powerful hurricanes and abnormal snowstorms. Weather is now becoming another issue threatening our national security. Over 1,000 tornadoes were reported in 2016 alone. In that year, the US experienced fifteen weather events, each exceeding one billion dollars in damages. These events included excessive drought, massive wild fires, four different flood events, eight severe storm events, and a hurricane. The world is experiencing more record-breaking weather crisis years than any other century in recorded history.
This is not something to be denied by the church, but rather to be seen as an opportunity to be on the front lines. Jesus commissioned His followers to serve a broken world by bringing His message of hope; a message that can only occur by way of relational response and a demonstration of hands-on compassion.
A warming planet will, over the course of time, cause human suffering through drought, famine, pestilence, and natural disaster. Calamities of these kinds are likely end times’ birth pangs connected to a changing climate and should be seen by Christians as significant, not something to be ignored. Jesus said to keep watch, stay alert, and be aware when we see these things happening around us, not to scoff or deny them.