from Rev Chris Cohen - November 2008


Dear Friends,

Would you hand over your life’s savings to a stranger so that they can give it to someone else to invest it for you?  We do!  Would you hand over the environment that sustains your life to people you don’t know, so they can use it as they see fit? We do!

The current “economic crisis” as it is called, and the long term environmental degradation that we are witnessing remind me of some basic human failings.  Let's call them greed and selfishness.

It seems to me that some financial managers have been playing fast and loose with other people’s money with the hope that they, the managers, might get rich.  These people usually have no personal “hurt money” in their schemes so that this incentive for responsibility is not present.  “Unfettered capitalism” runs loose and before long we all wear the consequences of greed.

Every moment of our living we are effecting, for better or worse, the environment we live in.  We all consume the world’s resources and consequently create pollution of various kinds.  We might rather not have to be responsible for what pollution we create, and yet we are all part of the problem.  In this issue we are experiencing the results of unfettered consumerism.

So what options do we have?  I’m sure that there are people a lot smarter than I am in economics and in environmental science who can give us sound advice in these areas.  However, I believe there are some simple principles at stake here that our Christian heritage can address.

We know that Adam and Eve didn’t want to take responsibility for their actions in that garden.  We know that the Old Testament prophets warned their people that if they continued to live the way they were, disaster would fall upon them.  It seemed their people were selfish, not caring for those in need and ignoring God.  We all know the statement: “You reap what you sow”.

I wonder if we (everyone) took seriously the law to “love God with our whole being and our neighbour as ourselves”, if this could effect the woes I’ve written about.  Imagine if we actually cared about the effect our actions had on our neighbours’ financial situation, locally and around the world, or our use and pollution of, this earth’s resources.

In reality the scriptures remind us of the potential in human beings to be self serving and greedy.  This is why the account of Adam and Eve, the “Do nots” of the Ten Commandments and the warnings of the prophets are given to us.  In the New Testament the choice is given to us rather clearly in the example of a human life, Jesus.  We can respond positively to the values and example of Jesus or selfishly hold on to what we want.

As people who live with the “Word of God” we should be able to name evil for what it is, in these cases greed and selfishness, to reject this evil and claim the way of living that is about caring for each other and the world we live in.

If we don’t, then sooner or later, we will suffer the consequences of our actions.  This should be nothing new to us.  We have known this for a long time.

Choices, responsibility and consequences: these things are ours.

Your friend Chris