. . . there is more than a hint of arrogance behind these assumptions, particularly when some scientists and other commentators attribute the sole cause of these changes to human activity.
Believing human beings are totally responsible for the changes in climate only leads us to regard ourselves more highly than we ought. The outcome is that we conclude we humans need to act to fix climate change; after all we are the only ones who can do anything about it. A biblical world view sees things differently. It understands there are other factors at work in any change in the world, including climate, and that God is ultimately watching over it all.
When we remove God from the centre of our things and replace ourselves at its centre, we take responsibility for everything, even things we cannot control. When we elevate ourselves to gods, we believe we are cause of things much larger than ourselves. However, if we cannot change the weather, as this summer has reminded us, how can we still believe we can change the world and stem the changes in our climate? While there are no doubts God calls us to be good stewards of our planet, we are not to assume it all depends on us.
It is interesting to note that similar assumptions are at work in the hopes of the recently commissioned Royal Commission into child abuse. The commission is to be welcomed. It provides opportunities to bring to light many wrongs with the hope that it will bring change to institutional cultures and see reforms in law, policy and practice.
The Prime Minister’s desire “to make sure that what happened to children in the past is never allowed to happen again” is admirable. However, such hope is beyond the powers of any Royal Commission and any government to achieve. A quick analysis of past commissions, no matter how well intentioned, never satisfy. A biblical world view informs us that governments are given by God to bring order to a fallen world, but they cannot change the hearts of people.
The great Communist experiment that promised so much and delivered so little is a case in point. In his book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey writes, that the “Seventy-four years of communism had proved beyond all doubt that goodness could not be legislated from the Kremlin and enforced at the point of a gun.” The ironic lesson of Communism is that any attempt to legislate and enforce morality produces subjects and rulers who lose their moral core and everybody, particularly the poor, suffers.
In Dorothy Sayer’s play, The Man Born to Be King, King Herod tells the Magi, “You cannot rule men by love. When you find your king, tell him so. Only three things will govern a people — fear and greed and the promise of security.” Thankfully Jesus didn’t succumb to that temptation.
This is the wonder of Jesus. God became weak; the Creator of humanity became its victim. Powerless before his inquisitors and executioners, Jesus encapsulated and demonstrated the heart of God to humanity. Rather than coercion he chose a different way and willingly allowed himself to be crucified on a Roman cross. In doing so he presented the world not with an ultimatum but an invitation. It is an invitation to acknowledge that by ourselves we cannot fix the world, that left to ourselves we will put self before others, that by ourselves and our own effort we cannot make the world good.
The cross is an invitation. It is an invitation that appeals to the heart and not the will; it is an invitation that doesn’t demand obedience but a considered loving response; it is an invitation to come clean and admit that we are not the centre of all things and never will be.
But the story does not end with execution. Raising Jesus from the dead is God’s definitive endorsement. The resurrection is God’s confirmation of the life Jesus lived. It is the final exposure of that the best humanity is falls far short of what it needed to finally change the world to good.
In the midst of floods and bushfires, Royal Commissions and climate change, the resurrection provides us with the strongest possible message that the way of Jesus conforms to the ways of the Creator of the universe. And despite our best laid plans, it is only in living the Jesus’ way that our world will be all that it could be.
Stephen L Baxter