Church has to change
We can’t go on using up resources as we do. But we can, argues Alex Mabbs, rediscover the delight of community and generosity
Responding to climate change, a threat to the survival humankind, can feel overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be like that. With no disrespect to ostriches, we are not ostriches; human beings have immense resources of creativity and faith available to us. There are things churches can do now to save the world.
We live in a fractured society. Those fractures enable us to treat others with contempt, buying cheap clothes, eating cheap meat, burning oil and generally over-consuming, despite the consequences suffered by child labourers, wildlife, farm animals and other beings precious to God.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment, after loving God, is to love your neighbour as yourself. Acts tells us that the early Christians put this into practice in their communal life. And yet, many of us today don’t even know our neighbours’ names.
Churches are some of the few places in the UK where people unrelated by blood mix together across different ages, races, languages and social classes. We may not take this very deep, but we could take it further than we do – we could develop these bonds of belonging together, practice the radical forgiveness of the Lord’s Prayer and discover how much joy, freedom and life there is in true community.
We could then create ways of incorporating our neighbours into this abundant life, extending the love of God beyond church limits. We could open up our buildings and gardens for people to meet together. We would resource community events, caring schemes, sharing networks and so on. Every act of sharing resources is a contribution to the fight against climate change.
We could draw on the connections that we have with the worldwide Church to develop a more caring attitude to our faraway neighbours, changing the way we consume, for their sake. Building community – locally, inter-denominationally, globally – is probably the most effective thing that Churches can do about climate change…
Alex Mabbs is minister of Brighthelm United Reformed Church and Centre, East Sussex. Events engaging with the issue of climate change in the URC’s Southern synod are listed at earthyear.org
This is an extract from the October 2015 edition of Reform.