We are living in a global context where many people around the world desire a better story for their current reality. The news daily is of bomb attacks, hostage-taking, plane crashes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and millions of displaced people and refugees. Our world is in a condition that needs a story of unconditional love and restoration.
The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP21, is another recent example of human efforts to change a story. Leaders of many nations are trying to achieve a universal agreement for responding to changing weather patterns and its impact on communities and lives worldwide.
What is interesting to hear are the reasons for changing the story.
When people are asked what the major motivation for addressing climate change is, they often cite a reason related to human survival. But, when global accountability measures are perceived as barriers to international trade and the reason richer economies lose competitiveness, suddenly the conversation becomes survival of the fittest. Then, richer countries, with economies heavily dependent on fossil fuels, become less motivated for changing policies that could have assisted countries with poorer economies and suffering the most from erratic weather.
“…we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”
It is the power of God’s mercy and justice that overcomes this selfish tendency and sustains motivation and movement for changing the story of a suffering and broken world to something better.
He uses us and His church worldwide to do so.
One of the important principles of community development, disaster response, and even constituent engagement-- that we try to follow in our relationships with our partners and donors-- is to see God at work in the story of their lives and the context of communities we work in. This is in contrast to the mistaken notion in the past that missionaries or short-term volunteers were the ones to bring the Savior or even were the saviors for needy people and communities.
Our task is now seen as understanding how God is already present in places of brokenness and work with communities in their efforts to discover and experience His intended new story of hope, a flourishing of life, and reconciling of relationships.
Eugene Peterson challenges us to go one step further with his reflection about what happens when people grow in their understanding of God’s intentions for life with his quote: “…we find that we are not being led to see God in our stories but our stories in God’s. God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves.”
At this time of year as each of us celebrate Christmas, how committed are we to understanding and fulfilling God’s “bigger picture”? Is this the motivation for efforts to address poverty, disaster, injustice, and climate change so that they go beyond human survival? Is it God’s story and purpose that drives us or is it another story? If we accept that the environment is His creation, then how well are we caring for it?
As we reflect on these questions and on the past year, I hope we will be challenged to remember God’s story. He is doing amazing things! We celebrate his transforming work. We confess our own limitations.
For the year ahead, we continue our commitment to helping every person and community we reach in their efforts to a life that is not just surviving but flourishing as his story intended.
World Renew Canada