Tearfund’s newly-released research on climate change offers potential for a hopeful future and an opportunity to bridge divides on this most challenging of issues, says Matthew Maury, Tearfund’s CEO.
The Beatitudes paint a picture of a Kingdom which can feel quite foreign, certainly challenging, but perhaps also liberating. Blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
The quality of meekness is not one our culture often celebrates or desires. It is associated with weakness or powerlessness. The translation from the original language is gentle. But it was also a word that was used to describe the willing and loyal submission of power to authority. This is the upside down economy of the Kingdom of God we repeatedly find in the Bible, challenging our culture’s definitions of success and worth.
My experience as CEO of Tearfund has shown me how much we can learn from scriptures like the Beatitudes when we seek God’s heart for justice and care for the vulnerable. By listening to our Tearfund global partners, and learning from their reading of these verses, our perspective can be liberated from the cultural filters that unhelpfully blur our picture of God’s Kingdom.
This report reveals a deep commitment to creation care by the next generation of younger Christians... We believe this is an opportunity for the Church to truly be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ and for us all to discover what it means for the meek to inherit the earth.
Part of that listening leads us to consider how the Gospel speaks to one of the biggest justice issues of today - the disproportionately negative impact climate change is having on our global brothers and sisters and, in many places, entrenching the challenges of poverty. What does it mean for us, as Christians, as the Church in Australia, to wrestle honestly with this reality and the ways in which we are contributing to the problem, and then to respond with meekness? How might we tread more gently on this earth and hold our own power with restraint and in submission to God?
It is in this context that Tearfund is excited to release this report. We believe it is filled with the potential for a hopeful future – the breaking in of the Kingdom of God through the way that Christians young and old respond to the challenges of a changing climate. After decades of what has at times seemed like inaction by many generations in the Church – the research we are sharing in this report reveals a deep commitment to creation care by the next generation of younger Christians and what we believe will be significant shifts to which church leaders will want to respond.
We recognise that in a highly polarised and politicised context there are bridges that need to be built in order to respond to these research findings. Tearfund is committed to journey with the Church and its leaders as together we learn, discern and pray our way across the divides. We believe this is an opportunity for the Church to truly be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ and for us all to discover what it means for the meek to inherit the earth.