• The Cross & Climate Change Part 7: Trust

    Posted by The Hope For Creation Team

    23 December, 2013

    Father, into your hands I commit my spirit (Luke 23:46)

    Jesus’ final words in the Gospel of Luke are words of trust and faith in the one he knew as Abba, Father.

    Trusting in God, it is clear, did not mean that Jesus would not face trials, torture and death. It did not mean that he would be spared uncertainty, anguish, or anger – all of which the gospels clearly portray him experiencing.

    It did mean that he could trust in God’s fundamental goodness and commitment to His world and His people. He could rely on God’s saving, life-giving and resurrecting grace, even if he could not have known at that moment how God would act to vindicate him and begin renewing the people of God and all of creation through his death and resurrection.

    Paul, too, was crystal clear on this. As his list of perils in Romans 8:35 indicates, having faith in God does not mean that the faithful ones will not experience immense and perhaps deadly individual and corporate distress – “hardship, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword…”

    What it does mean is that we can rely completely on Christ’s love being greater than any of these calamities. Christians are people who need not, in the end, despair. God will bring life even to the bodies of the dead, and renewal to creation even as it groans in bondage and futility.

    Knowing this we are set free to love and to serve without fear in a warming world. If the worst that can happen as we seek to respond to climate change is that we lose a small portion of our economic wealth, or face some adjustments to our lifestyles, what is that in the face of the boundless riches of the love of Christ? Or worse, as we and our children face increased climatic hazards such as droughts and floods, crop failures, cyclones, storm surges and king tides, then even these cannot be compared with the overflowing and all-consuming love of Christ.

    In all of this we can have faith, and trust that God will reconcile all of the created order to himself.

    But faith is not a stand-alone virtue, and nor is it a code-word for inaction or indifference. The Bible regularly links together faith, hope and love as the triple orientation that Christians must have towards God and God’s world.

    When we place our trust in Jesus, we are called also to invest our hope in the coming kingdom he inaugurated, with all its challenge to worldly values and upturning of our power plays and exclusions – “He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty” (Luke 1:52–53).

    Christian hope is for the vindication of God as Creator, Saviour and Judge and the renewal of the world. Our hope is not wishful thinking, but an orientation and action in light of God’s priorities and purposes. Why on earth would we labour for a more just, peaceful and sustainable world against seemingly insurmountable odds? Because we hope for God’s future in which “justice and peace will embrace” (Psalm 85:10), where mourning and crying and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:4).

    It is clear from Scripture that God wishes to nurture and reconcile creation through the work of human beings. We are given the task of nurturing and stewarding the earth as we bear the image of the Lord of Creation (Genesis 2:15) and more than that, in some almost indescribable way the salvation of God’s people is to be good news for the liberation of a suffering and degraded creation (Romans 8:18–25). But God will nurture and reconcile creation despite the work of human beings if that is what He has to do. And sadly, but surely, we will have to account for how we cared for the gifts of creation which God lavished upon us.

    Finally, we cannot rest easy in any situation where poor and vulnerable people are suffering, where vulnerability is being intensified and fundamental human rights, dignity and hope are being violated. In a warming world, it is the poorest people who are most dependent on their immediate environment and most exposed to environmental hazards and who suffer earliest and worst the effects of climate change. And we are, in light of this and above all else, called to love. Called to love with the same self-sacrificing, whole-hearted love we have received in Christ.

    People of faith, hope and love have helped change the world in the past. They helped to end the slave trade and abolish slavery (even while some asserted it as a God-given institution). They stood for civil rights in the United States and against apartheid in South Africa (even as some said that God intended the separation and subjugation of some “races”). They spearheaded the Jubilee movement at the turn of the Millennium to cancel poor country debt (even as some stated that the global financial system must not be challenged). Who knows what God can and will do through His Spirit and His people as we seek to address the causes and consequences of human-induced climate change.

    “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love”.

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    This blog is the seventh in a eight part series on 'The Cross & Climate Change' originally posted by Hope for Creation. You can read the other blogs in this series here.