Reimagining the World
Updated: Jan 7
What do your dreams say about what you value? It’s a question that I’ve been reflecting on in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In the space of half a year, life has changed hugely, in ways we couldn’t have anticipated. The pandemic has been devastating for communities around the world. It is right that we grieve the loss it has caused.
The pandemic has massively changed many of our expectations. In this way, it has opened up space for us to reimagine what is possible. When we dream, we begin to love in ways which are not limited by what we see in front of us.
Dreaming is something that I find really hard to sustain. It’s almost like the act of imagining puts into focus what is broken, and makes the pain feel even sharper. I’m sure that’s why it gets harder to dream or see a future when we are hurting.
This is a challenge, especially as we face a future which could look very different to life as we know it now. If you are younger than 30, you have never experienced a single month in which the surface temperature of the Earth was below average.
The global average temperature will reach 1.5 degrees of warming between 2030 and 2052. Beyond this, temperatures will rise again to 2 degrees.
In real terms this means that within the next 30 years, several hundred million more people will be severely impacted by climate-related risk and will be pushed into poverty. Disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on farming and fishing are at “disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences”.
By 2100, we are likely to see warming of between 2.6 degrees and 4.8 degrees.
Already, a changing climate is endangering people’s health, livelihoods, water access and food security. In the future, climate risk is likely to cause situations of crisis which overwhelm our emergency systems on a near-permanent basis. Just as the coronavirus has had tragic and systemic consequences, so too will climate change.
What does this mean for the church? At the grave of Lazarus, Jesus wept. Even though he knew Lazarus would live again. We see from this that Jesus’ dealings with pain are not escapist. He does not avert his eyes from death, and he knows what it is to suffer.
The church will live through the changes to the earth, responding to the far-reaching consequences for our health, livelihoods, food security, and water supply, as ecosystems struggle to adapt.
As younger people in the church, we must prepare ourselves for crisis situations, like those caused by the coronavirus pandemic, to become the norm, and we must act accordingly.
The Christian faith is not death-denying. We are asked to fix upon death in our remembrance of Christ, “to carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:10). At the same time, we do not glorify death.
As part of the church, we believe in God’s purposes for the restoration and reconciliation of all creation. Always, scripture presents a vision of interdependent flourishing as the continuous intention, and ultimate end of God’s creation. Always, our flourishing as people depends on the flourishing of the earth. Always, the context for humanity’s relationship with God is the earth.
And, as part of the church, we seek to live according to God’s purposes. Responding to the love of God for all creation, we look to the example of Jesus, and trust in the transforming power of the Spirit to bring life.
It’s time to dream, because we value life. I find it hard to think of what is ahead, when I know that there will be more crises to come, more suffering, and more death. I find it hard knowing injustice is so embedded into our way of life that change means reimagining many things we consider to be either inevitable or unchangeable, and being prepared to do the seemingly impossible.
At the same time, I remember Jesus, weeping over the death of his friend. And at the same time, he faithfully brought life to the situations of death around him. I want to be prepared to face the challenge of the future, and dream. I want to remember that in a world where death is the ultimate enemy, Jesus tells us that even death will be destroyed.
I want to have the faith to reimagine the world.
A group of young Christians are starting to think, act and pray about climate change together. We are called the Young Christian Climate Network (YCCN) and we would love you to join us. Search for us on social media when we launch in August or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more and be part of the set-up.