Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus – Philippians 2:3-5
It’s a wet, cool October day here, and the forest part of Wake Forest is all drippy. The Raleigh area is seven inches ahead in rain so far this year, we’re coming out of a late summer drought, and we just finished up the longest, hottest, few months in a long time.
All told, and with Hurricane Matthew preparing to initiate a two hundred seventy degree loop before returning to the scene of its earlier crimes, the world has some interesting weather patterns in play of late.
From my perspective – and as I wrote in my 2015 book, Pilgrim in Progress – I like to call this evolving phenomenon less “global warming,” and more “global weirding.”
Let’s not lose focus of our own responsibility:
Speaking of Hurricane Matthew, you may have seen this (obviously enhanced…) image floating around on the Internet. In my feed the picture appeared with the following caption: “Demonic forces are being released on our plain (sic) of existence and they are showing themselves. The word of God tells us that evil will openly show itself for what it is. We need to pray fervently.”
I couldn’t help myself, I had to weigh in: “It’s a nasty storm,” I wrote. “But I think its particular ferocity is less demonic and more a result of our selfish pursuit of greed and consequent poor stewardship of this planet. I think we broke the Earth.”
To me the entire exchange speaks to something very important: This earth is a wild and marvelous place, a biosphere that we cannot control. However, God still charged humankind with the responsibility to manage it lovingly, carefully, and respectfully. Instead we have plundered its resources without regard to the long term consequences; like spoiled children – we want everything “right now.” Then, rather than own our collective complicity, we play politics with science, shrug our shoulders, or post a doctored photo and blame the devil.
But, unlike the powerhouse financial institutions on Wall Street, this planet is not “too big to fail.”
What am I saying?
Don’t be dismayed, I’m not Chicken Little-ing this point in our history as a species; and I’m not End Times-ing the conversation either. Bad news on the doorstep? Absolutely. But I believe the same inventive ingenuity, problem solving, ambition, and flat-out genius that got us into this mess can also – potentially – get us steered in a better direction.
But there is a big caveat here (a warning or proviso of specific stipulations, conditions, or limitations), and I’m talking about the urgent imperative that we humble ourselves before God, that we turn from our selfish ways, and that we apply all this collective creative impetus to solutions that benefit every last person on the face of the planet.
Not just those with the resources to invest; not just the U.S.A., not just my particular party, not just folk we agree with, not a quid pro quo... but all of us.
Listen to George Washington!
George Washington, in his (1897) farewell speech as president, warned against what he called, “the spirit of party.” –
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
“…the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.” – George Washington
The powers of evil only have as much influence in this world as we are willing (consciously or unconsciously) to give them.
There are storms… and there are storms. Regardless of the substance of their manifestation – physical, political, or religious – we need to own our collective responsibility in creating the conditions that facilitate intensification. Then we need to put all partisan nonsense behind us and work for equitable solutions, applying the gifts of imagination, intelligence, abundant resources, and a disciplined will… to building a world that benefits all – not just those we consider “right” or “in” or “worthy” or “like-minded” or “blessed.”
Any blessing we have has been showered on us so that we can be a blessing to others.
When we forget that, then we are playing into the hands of evil and destruction.
So let’s play nice, and let’s “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5).