Tag Archives: justice

Stewardship – A Vital Principle for the Earth

Current scientific consensus is that the life-system of the earth is becoming dangerously destabilised, and that the threats of climate change, pollution and dwindling resources pose a practical and political issue that is of immense importance.

The view, widely-held, is that the severe imbalances that are occurring are doing so because of the actions of man upon the eco-systems and environments of the planet.

But there are some who disagree.

Some, generally name-called “climate change deniers” (although such terminology is not always helpful given the need for rational debate and well thought-out arguments), say that the changes that are being experienced are not due to man’s actions but are a natural development in the life-cycle of the planet.  These people would be best placed in a non-interventionist bracket.

The non-interventionist policy would be that there is no need for man to take any remedial steps as pertaining to eco-systems or environment, and that much of the “green agenda” is dangerous in itself, either because of the increase in governmental and inter-governmental control, or the negative impact such remedial steps would have on a consumerist-based and consumption-based economic system.

Non-interventionists can be classified into three varieties:

1. The total denial group.  Claiming that the science behind man-induced eco-system danger is flawed, this group asserts that there are no notable changes to the systems of the earth and that therefore, as there is no problem, there does not need to be a solution.

2. The natural cycle group.  Whilst accepting the vast evidence that climates are changing and that the eco-systems of the world are in a state of flux, the natural cycle group asserts that these changes can be exclusively attributed to the natural changes that would have occurred without man’s influence.  Because man is not responsible, they say, then man need take no remedy but just let the planet get on with it.

3. The climate-changing God believers.  Full acceptance is made that the changes to the environment and planet are taking place, and an acceptance is also made that these changes pose a great risk to the survival of the planet and of mankind. Those in this category, however, disown any responsibility to act because it is the work of God, and that instead of looking to address the environmental issues nations need rather to repent of their sins and turn to God.

The science behind the claims of climate change and eco-system strain are either countered or dismissed by these groups.

Yet there is a very important Christian principle which is often overlooked by the non-interventionists, and this is especially relevant to those who claim climate change is the work of God.  That principle is the principle of stewardship.

The Bible is very clear, and in numerous places, that a Godly person should be a good steward of the resources that God has entrusted to him.  Many would take this to mean a faithful tithe to the Church, or even lining the pockets of wealthy and attractive TV presenters (“evangelists”).  Yet stewardship is a far deeper and profound concept that covers 100% of what God has entrusted to us.  That 100% includes all our finances, all our time, and all of the resources that are available to us.  “All things come from God, and of Your own do we give You,” we say after giving our offerings at church.

The vital principle of stewardship brings a new light on the arguments for intervention.  The concept that the earth is our plaything and the resources are there for us to use as we please is not compatible with the principle that these resources are to be used wisely, purposefully and diligently not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of those less fortunate.

Whatever the causes behind climate change and eco-system degradation, it is very clear that the consumerist and consumption-based economic system has a poor stewardship record, and that if we are to counter the issues, or even if we cannot and the systems have already reached tipping point, part of our “repenting and turning to God” must be a repentance of the sinful greed and waste that the consumption-based economic system has produced.  Then we may be in a position to properly relate to and steward the Creation in our care.

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The Offence of the Cross

I have been prompted to make this entry in my blog because of the debate about Christianity and homosexuality.  Note that this was the prompt, but I am not going to focus on gay issues as my main point in this post.

There is a difficult, and at times un-Christianly bitter, debate within the Church between those who stand on Biblical principles in moral behaviour and those who suggest that the grace of God and the requirement to love all means that all or any behaviour is acceptable, providing it conforms to the World’s standards of morality.

For example, the liberals would say that a homosexual priest is fine, but a serial murderer priest is not.  The Bible, in fact, and in the New Testament, classes both sins as equal.  The liberals dispute this.

Yet to move beyond the homosexual debate is, I believe, important.  The conflict over gay rights is currently to the fore, prompted by moves in the UK to prohibit Christian principles in the workplace and by moves in the US ordaining openly homosexual bishops.  But the charge is now often brought that the Church is obsessed with “gay bashing”.  Although the debate wasn’t started by conservative Christians, we have risen to the bait and it seems that much campaigning has been focused on this.

But it is important, I believe, to move the debate forward.  The UK, and the world, are being swamped by sinful behaviours, and they are not exclusively to do with sexual behaviour.

My own particular struggle,  with drink and drugs, needs to be brought to attention.  I would take the same approach to heavy drinkers and drug users as I would to homosexual practice, for the Bible treats them as equal sins.  Show love, offer help, but do not shy away from saying such behaviour is sinful.  I have a deep sorrow at my past drink and drug use, and now I would not thank those who said “never mind, roll around on the floor dribbling, God doesn’t mind”.  The truth is: God does mind, He calls it sin.

There are other issues too, such as the oppression and exploitation of the poor.  The degree to which this happens in the UK, from the human trafficking to the exploitation by clothes shops in using overseas sweatshops, is appalling.  Christians need to speak on these issues.

I want to say one more thing: there has been a growing move in the UK to make Church “fashionable”.  To make Jesus attractive.  Sometimes this borders on attempting to con people into becoming Christians.  It is done in the name of “making Church relevant”.  Yet, the Bible is clear that we should “speak the truth”.  We cannot accept the “fluffy God” or the “it’s okay Jesus”.  God, Jesus, is Holy.

We must be clear.  A refusal to obey God will result in judgement.  But God is so loving that He gave His only Son, Jesus Christ, that whosoever should believe on Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If we Christians truly live, breathe, and then speak the Truth, believe me we shall soon find, and rejoice in, the fact that Jesus Christ and His Cross are most offensive to those who refuse to believe.

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Why Doesn’t God Just Sort Things Out?

One question I remember hearing often is this: If God is so loving, why doesn’t He just stop all the wars and come down and make everything okay?

Perhaps, He did.  And we killed Him.

Jesus’ death upon the Cross marks the crossroads of life.  Many anti-Semitic Christians have asserted that it was the Jews who killed Jesus.  Christian Jews sometimes point out that it was the Romans who killed Jesus.  But we are all responsible.  The Jewish authorities orchestrated Jesus’ death, the Gentile (non-Jew) authorities carried the sentence out.  Both Jews and non-Jews bear responsibility.

Now, one may say: “But I wasn’t there.  If I had been, I would have had no part in it.”  Such a statement is understandable, yet profoundly arrogant.  Haven’t you ever said an unkind word about someone behind their back?  Maybe, as your friends laughingly mocked, you resisted for a while, but when you sensed that you’d miss out on the party unless you joined in, didn’t you throw in a smidgen of insult?  Trust me, no, trust God, when He says that “all have sinned”, and that if you had been present at the crucifixion of Jesus, you, like me, would have mocked.

But why did Jesus die?  Surely, if He’s God, He couldn’t die?  Some, such as the JW’s and Unitarians, deny that Jesus is God.  But Jesus Himself claimed to be the great I AM (one of the Names of God).  Thomas cried out “My lord and my God!”  Jesus said, “I and the Father are One.”  Maybe we can’t get our heads around God being three persons but only One God, but then I can’t get my head around the Hadron Collider.  It doesn’t make something not true just because we don’t fully understand it.

Okay, so God, as the Son, came to earth.  Why didn’t He just say: “Okay, I’m here now, stop fighting, stop bickering and we’ll have a party.”

There is the question of sin.  What would have happened if God had said that He would make everything perfect, bring justice and reward everyone.

Well, as God is just, He would have had to reward everyone according to the state of their hearts and their deeds.  Remember: all have sinned.  All are guilty.  All deserve to be punished.  So, God brings Justice and we all stand condemned.  It would have been a literal hell for everyone.

So, because God is loving, He sends His Son, who is One with Him.  God had already shown in stark clarity the method by which sin could be forgiven: only by the shedding of blood.  The Old Testament times are full with the blood of lambs, goats, pigeons and the like.  There is a law: sin causes death.  For sin to be forgiven, something had to shed its blood.

And so, at the Passover, God provides for Himself a Lamb.  A Lamb without blemish.  Perfect, pure, holy.  His Son Jesus.  Jesus’ shed blood makes the atonement.  If we accept that He died for us and believe in Him, we can receive that atoning work of the Cross: we can be forgiven.

We killed Jesus.  But Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  But that forgiveness only comes when we accept the Truth.  Jesus said, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life, no-one comes to the Father except by Me.”  Jesus is the only Way of salvation, be you Jew or Greek or Roman or Indian or American or African or Australian.

So, a just God takes upon Himself our sin, a merciful God calls us to respond, and a gracious God offers us all, as many as would respond, life joyful and everlasting.

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Filed under Scripture teaching, The Gospel