• The Cross & Climate Change Part 3: Family

    Posted by The Hope For Creation Team

    5 December, 2013

    Woman, behold your son: behold your mother (John 19:26-27)

    In this post we carry on the series on The Cross & Climate Change, focusing on Jesus’ “seven words from the cross”. Earlier posts are: Introduction1: Forgiveness2: Heaven.

    Even in death, Jesus’ love for his mother ensured that she would be cared for after he had died. And there seem to be few things as basic to our created nature as love and care for family.

    However, the people of God are a family that goes beyond blood and beyond borders.

    Consider sea level rise. Global sea level rose roughly 19 cm (±20 mm) between 1901 and 2010. And projections are for further sea level rise of anywhere between 25 cm and 98 cm before the end of the century. This might not sound like much, but Christians in the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu (whose highest point is less than four metres above sea level) are already suffering the effects of sea level rise, with unusually high tides, erosion and salinity affecting their crops. Sea level rise is already causing many of Papua New Guinea’s Carteret Islanders to start to relocate to Bouganville, as inundation of salt water poisons their crops and standing water has increased the spread of malaria.

    The people of Israel were called to be a blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). But a blessing kept to ourselves becomes a curse, something we can see all too clearly in the attitudes of some of the Pharisees in Jesus’ day. Jesus exploded these closed boundaries by commanding us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). These would have been hard words to hear for a Jew persecuted by Roman occupation, overtaxed and threatened with violence. They may not be easier for us to hear when we are being called to love people who have never harmed us, indeed who are being harmed by us.Given that they are part of the family of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ, then if our lifestyles and national economic and political choices are contributing to their suffering, aren’t we called to sacrifice and make changes for them? “Love,” Paul assures us, “does no wrong to a neighbour” (Romans 13:10).

    In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus tells us this care reaches beyond our tribe, our nation and our preferences. He calls us to bind up the wounds of those who are unlike us. What is more, we in  Australia (and other industralised nations) are not simply to see ourselves as Good Samaritans, able to “rush to the rescue” of the vulnerable poor. We are complicit in the structures that create the banditry of climate change. Hence, all who suffer climate change impacts are our neighbours, though neighbours mediated by the structures that harm them. or can do good to them if we seek to change them.

    Following Jesus, Paul too, notes that we are blessed by God in order to be a blessing – “provided with enough of everything so that we may share abundantly in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8) – and that this blessing is not to be restricted to the favoured few but shared “with all” (2 Corinthians 9:13). We are called to love and serve not just those we like, those who like us, nor even those who are like us, but to love and serve those unlike us and even those who may dislike us.

    Climate change threatens our (mostly) Muslim neighbours in Bangladesh with “extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures”. About 20 million people in the coastal areas of Bangladesh are already affected by salinity in drinking water. Rising sea levels and more intense cyclones and storm surges threaten drinking water, food production, and human health and survival for many millions of Bangladeshis.

    So, should we make personal and national sacrifices for an African animist farmer suffering in drought, or a Muslim Bangladeshi inundated by seawater? For the follower of the Crucified and Risen One, there is no question.

    Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of faith (Galatians 6:10).


    This blog is the third 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.