When Time Magazine named her as the person of the year 2019 Edward Felsenthal wrote this about her: ‘her story became the one most unlikely and surely one of the swiftest ascents to global influence in history!’
She was only 15 when she started making news. Who? Greta Thunberg. Greta Thunberg who? She is the school who became a climate change protester in Sweden. Before the September 9, 2018 parliamentary elections in Sweden, she protested everyday outside the Swedish Parliament during her School hours for three weeks with a hand-printed slogan (SKOLSTREJK FOR KLIMATET). She would sit on the steps of the Parliament and demand that the Government of Sweden would take radical steps to counter climate change. Post the election, she protested every Friday during School hours. She did not believe in PROCRASTINATING things. She did not believe in postponing matters. She did not think, “I am only 15 years of age now. Let me get involved in things close to my heart when I get older!” She took a plunge then and there!
What about us? Has God burdened us about something that bothers him through his Word? Have you heard God’s cry for the perishing souls in last verse of the book of Jonah? Have you heard Apostle Paul plaintive cry that Israel, his country, was still unsaved in Romans 9? What do you do about it? Do you get involved in evangelism here and now? Or do you say, “I will get involved in evangelism and mission when I am close to retirement!” The message of Ecclesiastes 12 is relevant to our discussion now. That chapter basically says: “Don’t postpone your missionary journeys for God! Do it when you have strength of your youth! When you are older, when a walk to the lavatory becomes laborious what missionary journey would you do?” (my applicatory version of Eccl. 12).
Second Greta Thunberg, the world’s youngest and most famous activist believed in PRACTICISING what she preached. Umair Irfan writing for Vox explains how Thunberg walks her talk after knowing that flights caused an increase in the emission of Greenhouse Gases: “After becoming a global celebrity, Thunberg has led by example, traveling to events around Europe mainly by train. In August, she traveled on a zero-emission sailboat to the US to attend the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York and other events. And this Friday, she is striking in Montreal, where the International Civil Aviation Organization is meeting to discuss airline emissions. Some Swedish airports have now reported a decline in travelers, which some activists attribute to the “Greta effect,” a newfound awareness of humanity’s impacts on the planet and a desire to make a difference” (Sept 27, 2019). Why did she avoid air-travel? “124.000 flights that take off every day spill millions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere” (Time, December 30, 2019). Yes, Greta’s anti-pollution rant was loud and she showed she meant business by avoiding flying through the clouds! She practiced what she preached.
What about us? Are we like the religious nuts who gave a hard time to Jesus in this regard? Thisi what Jesus said about them: “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees are the official interpreters of the law of Moses. So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach” (Matt. 23:2-3). Our call is to be like Jesus who practiced what he preached. In the Garden of Gethsamene he preached to his close disciples about the importance of prayer and went right ahead and prayed. Yes, Jesus practiced what he preached and we who are called repeatedly in the Bible to imitate him should also do so, enabled by His Grace! That these two – what we say must go along with what we do – comes to us from Romans two, twenty two? Confused? Romans 2:22 reads like this: “You say it is wrong to commit adultery, but do you commit adultery? You condemn idolatry, but do you use items stolen from pagan temples?”
Third, Greta Thunberg, the world’s most talked about teen, refused a PRIZE. When the Nordic Council wanted to give her an environment award worth USD 52,000, Thunberg refused. This is the reason she gave for refusing this prize: “The climate movement does not need any more prizes. What we need is for our rulers and politicians to listen to the research” (Time, October 30, 2019). Are we so focused on impressing human authorities while forgetting that there is a final day of judgment where the Lord Christ will reward the faithful? Apostle Paul was focused on this ultimate prize. He wrote, “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:14 NLT). The same Apostle was not keen to get cheap recognition from people. He wrote, Obviously, “I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant” (Gal. 1:10). More than being crazy about getting social media ‘likes’ for what we do, we must aim at getting ‘likes’ from our Maker.
Finally, like Greta Thunberg we must do what we can to prevent POLLUTION. True that matters concerning the environment are not of paramount importance as the salvation of the soul. I say that because I have read Scripture. I say that because I have seen the place in the Bible where Jesus sent the demons from the demonized man into the pigs which consequently drowned. Since pigs do not have souls as humans have, and the demons needed a body to inhabit, Jesus was okay with this arrangement. Therefore I am more concerned about peoples perishing without Jesus than animals and birds getting extinct (though I will do my best to prevent the extinction of animals and birds). Yes, we must do what we can for the environment. I regularly do pollution check for my vehicles. When I have to dispose waste in a public place, I look for a garbage bin to dispose it. I try and curtail the use of plastic the burning of which causes great damage to our environment. Since the earth is God-created, we must take good care of it.
(Rev. Dr. Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission, the G4 Mission. Find out more about this reader-supported Indian ministry http://www.dukev.org. This article was published in the November 2019 issue of Aim Magazine)