Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jesus and climate change XV

Speaking of carbon-emitters and carbon-sufferers reminds us – what has the church got to do with climate change?

I submit that only a community based on love can sustain a genuine concern for justice and sustainability in the face of ecological crisis. Lots of other movements and groups do great stuff and I thank God for them. I thank God for the IPCC: on the whole, they do us all a great service, as do many others. But the desire for change, the impulse towards justice and living wisely, cannot be sustained merely by guilt over past mistakes. Even fear, which is a great motivator, in the end can just compound the problem, because we get so terrified that we’ll buy any solution, even if we have to sell our souls to get it.

Only if we are secure in the knowledge of being held in a love that will not let go, can we step out on the risky path of putting the needs of others first. Only when we know that we are deeply loved by a God who made the heavens and the earth can we move heaven and earth out of love for our neighbour. Only when we stop thinking individualistically and start thinking as a global family can we face global problems, when the ones who are suffering from our greed or thoughtlessness are not faceless strangers, but brothers and sisters. Only when we are not paralysed by fear can we be released from the chains of denial and be honest about the scope of the problem and think clearly about creative solutions. Only when staying alive is not our primary goal, can we avoid be paralysed by threats. Only when the environment is not treated as either a resource to be exploited or a god to be worshipped can we live in harmony with it. Only when we understand ourselves as God’s image on earth, a good part of the created order with the task of enjoying and serving the creation will we stop acting like we own the place, or thinking that we are a disease that needs to be purged. Only when we see the world as a gift entrusted to our care, as the realm of God’s coming glory, as our future home, will we make more than cosmetic changes to our behaviour.

In God’s grace, there are many people doing good things in response to the threat of climate change and certainly most of them do not yet think of Jesus as a brother and God as their father, or believe that God raises the dead. That too is a gift from God. But only a community based on love, not guilt and fear, can sustain a genuine concern for all of God’s children, and for all of God’s world. As strange as it may sound, I believe that the church is the hope of the world.* The church is what God is doing now. God likes to work in surprising ways. He used a poor marginalised Jewish peasant on the outskirts of the Roman empire to turn the world upside down. He won his greatest victory through a shameful death. What is God doing now? He’s building a community full of broken and hurting people, but a community that has started to taste what it’s like to be healed.

If you’ve never done so, then I’d like to invite you to come and taste this community at your local church. If you've had disappointing experiences before, remember, this ought to be the community that does failure and repentance and new beginnings well. Come and see whether God might be at work in surprising ways. Come and be healed. Come and become a healer. Come and be part of God’s renovation.
*Of course, Christ is the hope of the world, but the community of his followers is the sign and foretaste of his coming presence and rule.
Series: I; II; III; IV; V; VI; VII; VIII; IX; IX(b); X; XI; XII; XIII; XIV; XV.


opit said...

I'm sure I saw recent material which indicated that Naza-Reth - far from being a backwater - was in fact a large trading centre. That makes sense if you consider the importance of the Sea of Galilee as a source of food.
And your point about trusting false prophets makes a nasty point when concerning the IPCC.
I haven't really managed to put together a proper timeline for it despite running into a startling essay which started me looking - but I strongly suspect Tony Blair and Prince Charles (!) are involved in a promotion of a tax on the international use of fire (globalization) at a time when resources are becoming desperately short.
As currently ignored by the U.S. and China, this has the potential to establish a trade imbalance forwarded to the U.N....and deprive nations of fiscal resources to address change in a time when the money supply is globally curtailed by banksters.
These would then include the actors that promoted war in Iraq.
Nor am I suitably impressed by the culturally superior appeal of mathematical computer modelling intrinsically incomplete data instead of a gazing into gypsy's crystal ball to think the future is 'proven predictable.'
How can one hope to present proof of something that has not happened and may not therefore be real?
There's nothing 'scientific' about accepting a hypothesis that cannot be demonstrated, no matter what urgency is alleged.
The horror of mountaintop strip mining is nearing its end in Appalachia, having ravaged over 500 hilltops and leaving a moonscape behind this past 10 years. Coal is running out within say 3 years.
Nor does anyone seem to note the idea that global recession will affect energy use.

byron smith said...

Nazareth may itself have had some local significance, but the province of Palestine was the outskirts of the Roman Empire.

IPCC - no evidence cited.

Tony Blair, Prince Charles - and Margaret Thatcher, David Cameron, Malcolm Fraser, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu and one or two others.

"a trade imbalance forwarded to the U.N." - The UN is not the recipients of any price on carbon.

So you ignore all computer models and never drive across bridges, fly in planes, check the weather forecast or listen to hurricane warnings?

Proof is unnecessary and impossible. Evidence is sufficient. I've discussed this in various places, such as here and here. There is plenty that is unscientific about rejecting a hypothesis with strong supporting evidence and no serious competitor.

Coal is running out in three years? If only.

Rusdy said...

Amazing. This post is written in early 2008. Again, this highlights how slow we are learning (or not) the impact of Climate Change. I still can't believe Kyoto Protocol started in 1992!

Anyway, thanks for the series write-up. This (Climate Change) is by far, the latest and greatest challenge of human kind. Yet, the one that has the most power (developed countries) seems oblivious to it. Even churches in general doesn't even mention this issue. I guess most of us have failed to do Climate Justice?

Thanks for the write-up. It is encouraging indeed.