Episode 1. Climate Change
Listen to the radio broadcast
Download audio file
When I was growing up, we were in the middle of the cold war. The thing that was going to destroy the world was a nuclear holocaust. These days we’re more focussed on climate change. It seems that no matter what point in history we look at, people always seem to be living in uncertain […]
When I was growing up, we were in the middle of the cold war. The thing that was going to destroy the world was a nuclear holocaust. These days we’re more focussed on climate change. It seems that no matter what point in history we look at, people always seem to be living in uncertain times.
I recently went to see Al Gore’s movie, ‘An Inconvenient Truth’. Now it’s a documentary about climate change. Whatever you’re politics, whatever your views on matters green are it’s an absolute must see.
He makes the point that the number of category four and five hurricanes and cyclones has almost doubled in the past thirty years. The flow of ice from glaciers in Greenland has more than doubled over the past decade. Malaria has spread to higher altitudes in places like the Columbian Andes, seven thousand feet above the sea level. At least two hundred and seventy nine species of plants and animals are already responding to global warming, moving closer to the poles.
It paints a picture of a world out of control, so bent on consuming that we’re prepared to destroy our planet. Now for many people, life is out of control, not only big picture issues but in our private space. And despite all the commercial bravado, quiet confidence is a commodity in very short supply. So how do we live a confident life in uncertain times?
When I was growing up the thing that we were afraid of was the cold war of the Americans and the Russians blowing one another up with their nuclear bombs, but these days its terrorism, its global warming, its poverty. Problem’s so big and so complex that the average punter like you and me we look at them and we see them as completely and absolutely out of our control. We can’t make a difference.
Okay, we sponsor a child, so what does that mean when twenty five thousand a day are dying of starvation and disease? Twenty five thousand children a day! And so because these geo-political issues are so big and so complex and so out of our control we retreat to our own personal world, it becomes all about me and my comfort and my conditions.
Now to be sure if you’re living in poverty, in a sense that’s not an unreasonable position. But for the wealthy it becomes about the next plasma screen and the next entertainment system and the next car. Sociologists call it cocooning, they try and wrap themselves in these cocoons of luxury to kind of get away from all these big picture global issues that seem so big and so complex and so out of control.
But even amidst that, people have this feeling of centre-less-ness. Ultimately the me, me, me thing doesn’t work, we know that! But it doesn’t stop us from getting hooked, and so people en masse are searching for something. En masse we feel like exiles in a foreign land, exiles in search of an identity. And amongst all of that, irrespective of where we are in the socio-economic scale whether we’re have’s or have not’s, we go through adversity still, we go through worries and anxieties and those things gnaw away at us.
Worry and anxiety and uncertainty are a very, very real thing that’s eating away at people right across the globe. And here’s what uncertainty’s all about, a focus on the small picture which is all about me, there are so many things outside my control that I just can’t impact on.
For the poor it’s about food today and shelter and life itself, for the wealthy they’re still worried about not having enough and jobs and promotions and marriage and kids and stuff. Wherever we live, whoever we are the list of uncertainties and worries is endless and so we have no peace and no joy and no quiet contentment, and so life goes on in this downward spiral, can I say that’s really, really sad.
I was having lunch with a man called Barun, from Bangladesh in India just recently, this man has such a tough life, real poverty, not enough food, but he had that joy and peace and contentment that I’m talking about. And that’s a challenge for me because I come from an affluent society, yet this program gets to be heard all round the world, all different cultures, all different contexts, rich and poor. But this pervading sense of uncertainty has no borders, it has no boundaries. People look in all sorts of weird and wonderful places to make that go away; they’re looking for something solid as a rock.
This week, (humour me) we’re going to look at this whole big, ugly, issue of uncertainty from A Different Perspective. If we don’t understand history it’s bound to repeat itself, and this week I’m looking at a letter two thousand years ago by a man called Peter, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, to a bunch of exiles who had an uncertain future. Here’s what, just the first few opening lines says:
From Peter an Apostle of Jesus Christ to the exiles of the dispersion scattered through Pontus and Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen and destined by God the Father, and sanctified by the Spirit to be obedient to Jesus Christ and to be sprinkled with His blood. May grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Now this Peter, his name, the name given to him by Jesus because he was previously called Simon. Peter the Greek word Petros means ‘rock, solid’ and Peter was, Peter was a strong guy. And he’s an apostle of Jesus Christ, someone sent out with the message of Jesus Christ by Jesus Himself. And he’s writing to the exiles of the dispersion, men and women and children who have fled from Jerusalem and Judea because these people were being persecuted terribly for their faith. They’re scattered right across the known world, they’re exiles, they’re in the world but they’re not of the world, but here’s what he says about them:
You who have been chosen and destined by God the Father, God’s planned for this before time began.
You know what happens when we’re going through uncertainty? We think, “Well God can’t possibly be in this, if God were in this my life would be wonderful!” But here are a group of people who are going through shocking persecution, they were being tarred and torched by Roman Emperors, right. They were being thrown in with lions they were being killed in the most horrible ways and Peter’s writing about them and saying, “You have been chosen and destined by God the Father.”
This is God’s plan before time began, God is in this place with you and what’s more you have been sanctified by the Spirit, in other words set apart, cleaned up, made wonderful and pure and useful and holy for God’s purposes. Right in the middle of your exile, right where you are, chosen and destined clean by the Spirit, forgiven through Jesus Christ, may grace and peace be yours in abundance.
Now that’s the exact opposite of fear and uncertainty, I mean these people were thinking, ‘Am I going to die tomorrow, what’s my life look like are the Romans going to come in a feed me to the lions?’ He speaks right into our nagging uncertainty with a quite confidence that comes from God. These three pillars, God’s purpose, plan before time began; God’s Spirit dwelling in us, setting us apart; God’s Son through whom we have forgiveness.
Do you get it, this letter is to exiles under persecution, this letter from Peter the rock sent by Jesus Christ, not just to God’s people scattered in Pontus and Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, but right here and now to you and me. Peter, a man sent out by Jesus Christ Himself to the exiles of the dispersion in Australia and New Zealand and South African and Cameroon and Ghana and Denmark and Singapore and China and Rwanda and wherever you are this very moment.
You who have been chosen and destined by God the Father and scrubbed clean, made holy, set apart for God’s purposes by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to Jesus and sprinkled with His blood and forgiven. May God’s grace and God’s peace be yours in abundance right in the middle of your exile, here and now.