Friday, February 25, 2011

Guilt and hope

After reading the most recent God and Gum Nuts post on judging others from our sometimes sanctimonius position, I thought I'd put down what I think within the church we should be doing when thinking about and speaking on climate change and other environmental issues. This will be briefer maybe than it should be - which is an excuse to write another post later.

'Guilt paralyses, hope energises'.
We can point the finger at other people's wrong practices, and there are times for calling a spade a spade and bringing to light (sometimes gently, perhaps sometimes not so - especially on the corporate or political level) practices, traditions, etc that are harmful to God's creation and impact upon the world's poor now and into the future. However, it is very often the case that the last thing you want to do is make people feel guilty.

Forcing guilt is paralysing at best, at worst it provokes hostility. Yes, there may even be a place for this - but we shouldn't aim for it. Instead, clear communication will lead to Godly repentance and a genuine desire to change and serve God by caring for his creation and sharing its resources with everyone.

Guilt paralyses because it leaves us wallowing, looking at the problem and not the solution, at ourselves and not at God. Guilt is backward looking and can simply be self-indulgent. Self-flaggelation may be fashionable in some circles, but it
s useless.

The gospel provides us with hope, and hope energises. In all of our efforts we must remember it is not we who save the Earth but God who will save the Earth and his people when Christ returns. Indeed the Earth shares our hope because when we are raised, it will be released from its bondage (Rm 8:19-25). But just as we don't wait for glorification to cooperate in our own sanctification - in Paul's words we don't go on sinning so that grace may abound, but instead because of our resurrection hope we know nothing we do is in vain (1 Cor 15:58). Hence, our future hope encourages us to act in the present, hope is always proleptic. We work now towards the goal of releasing creation from its bondage to decay under human misrule, and in doing so shine forward a light from the new age to come.

This hope will encompass all of creation, and so we should aim to invite all to be a part of this. Christ is central to our salvation and that of creation.

1 comment:

  1. I think hope is essential - and it's one of the reasons why the Church needs to involve itself in environmental issues. As well as the issue of guilt, there's also the issue of feeling like the problem is just too big and there is nothing we can do. When I look at what we are doing in and to this world, it is only my Christian faith that gives me hope - and the realisation that it is not up to humans alone. Knowing that God is at work in the world, redeeming the world, not only gives me hope but motivates me to do what I can as well.