Exctinction Rebellion: What Would Jesus Do?

Author: Martin Brown

Picture: Christian Climate Action, Facebook

Exctinction Rebellion: What Would Jesus Do?

Following the recent 'exctinction rebellion' climate protests in London, Martin Brown considers how the Holy Spirit wants us to respond to the pressing problem of climate change.

A meme recently circulated on social media saying that if anyone asks you the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ you could remind them that turning over tables and chasing people with a whip was within the realm of possibilities.

I used to think that the curious incident with the whip in the temple happened just because Jesus was having a bad day. I had misunderstood. It was Jesus being passionate and stopping people from mistreating something sacred.

Recently hundreds of people were arrested in London protesting through peaceful civil disobedience. The reason for this, as Extinction Rebellion write on their website, is that "the government is failing to protect us from an unprecedented global climate emergency."

Passionist priest Fr Martin Newell (pictured above) has been at the heart of these protests in London, a priest who had previously been in prison for deliberately damaging a vehicle used in the transport of nuclear warheads.

Conversely there are many Christians who do not believe in the reality of climate change. Then there are those who believe that it is real, but it’s all in God’s hands, so we don’t need to do anything.

We’ve sung the song  He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands and we’ve also read- and maybe sung- Christ has no body now but yours. So which is it? In whose hands is the earth? Is civil disobedience an authentic Christian response? What would Jesus do?

Called To Care For Creation

Creation is a good thing; very good. St. Thomas Aquinas said: “The immense diversity and pluriformity of this creation more perfectly represents God than any one creature alone or by itself.” Martin Luther wrote: “God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also in the trees and in the flowers and the clouds and the stars”.

Pope Francis, among many, also uses the term 'the Gospel of Creation'. What would we do to defend one of our four canonical Gospels? What should we do to defend the Gospel of Creation?

We are called to care for creation, as various prophets, saints, popes and countless ‘ordinary people’ have reminded us.

As Pope Benedict XVI said: "We are all responsible for the protection and care of the environment. This responsibility knows no boundaries.”  (Message for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2010.)

Is the world in God’s hands or our hands? The world is in our hands, but we are in God’s hands.
Please re-read that last sentence.

We are called to care for the environment and protect it. We are each called to do so in our own way. ‘Each in our own way’ does not let us off the hook, but rather challenges us to do what we can each do.

Called Out Of Our Comfort Zones

God may be calling us to something more than the person next to us in the pew. We are called out of our comfort zones into deep water, but don’t worry; we are in God’s hands.

Maybe for you, this deep water involves signing petitions, a peaceful protest, or maybe upturning a few tables. Our ecological crisis is no small matter.

We can open ourselves to the challenges that the Holy Spirit wants to give us, and be confident that, with the challenge, comes the guidance and strength we need.

A few years ago, the Celebrate conference  followed the theme ‘For Such A Time As This.’ This was taken from the Old Testament, in which Esther spoke out to King Xerxes to save her people. She spoke up to save the lives of those who were oppressed and suffering injustices.

This is part of our faith. Maybe we speak for those not yet born, maybe we speak for those who are already suffering. Maybe we speak on behalf of the environment, of which we are a small part, but we must speak-and speak in a way that people will listen.

What would Jesus do?

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