Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Would Jesus vote green? IX

Guilt (cont)
In fact the various ecological crises that we face today are a classic example of what the Bible calls ‘sin’. Sin is a bigger problem than simply the actions of any one individual. It is an addiction, a deadly habit, found in each of us and woven into our social fabric.

This problem is bigger than simply ignorance. Many environmentalists think that if only people really knew what was happening, we would spontaneously correct their behaviour, and we’d demand legislative change to curb the abuses of the big corporations. But education alone is not enough. Surveys in America indicate that 80% of people there identify themselves as environmentalists, but this doesn’t prevent them from consuming more per capita than any other nation, or stop many of them from believing that they are perfectly entitled to do so. I suspect that Australia may not be too different.

The scale of the threat may be novel, but its nature is not. The peace and harmony which God intended for his world were not destroyed by the industrial revolution. The problem is much older than that. For thousands of years, humanity has generally ignored God, failing to thank him or to properly care for his good world, placing our own interests before those of our neighbour.

I used to be a high school teacher. During the last week of the year, I would play a game with my students. I have described the game back here (you'll need to be familiar with the game to understand the next paragraph). I played this game in all my classes.

Without fail, I won back every lolly I gave out. None of them were able to consistently vote green. None could stand to see their neighbour also benefit when the prospect of personal gain loomed so large. But with everyone pursuing personal gain, everyone lost. Time and time again. Do you think adults would do any better? I’d love to try that game using ten dollar notes rather than lollies and find out.

We like to think that we’d vote green, but every day in various ways, all too often we each pick red. And we know it. And so we feel guilty.

But Jesus always voted green. I’m not talking about voting for the Greens party in a political sense. Or even about voting for environmental values. He voted green in that he played the game of life without assuming that it’s a competition; he made himself vulnerable by pursuing the good of others; he trusted God and so followed his way of peace, even though it led him into conflict with those who were violent. Jesus didn’t pursue self-interest first. And it cost him his life.(more)
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; X; XI; XII; XIII. Photo by CAC.