So then, brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
As we witness the impacts resulting from the climate crisis, it can be easy to despair at a lack of action. With most countries having failed to be near achieving their climate commitments, it is easy to question whether COP26 will have any serious effect. I often wonder if the changes we make in our individual lifestyles are pointless if governments and the biggest polluters continue to resist action. If we are not to give in to the despair that stops us from making positive choices about the way we live, then first and foremost we need hope. This can be the catalyst for change and turn the sacrifices we make into joyful and willing acts.
We can draw on this hope from the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, our God and Saviour. His resurrection is what confirms our Christian faith, and it is our faith in him that enables us to have hope for the future of the planet. While we await Christ’s return, we are part of a creation groaning in labour pains for the new creation on its way. Our crucial hope is in God’s promise to the world, and the one who will, in the fulness of eternity, restore creation.
This does not remove the need to act now. Our hope must not lead to complacency about the scale of the challenge, but truly requires and encourages us to act. This hope extends to events like COP26, that they will find a place in God’s purpose for the redeeming of the world. We can hold onto the hope that our efforts for the safeguarding of creation and the serving of those most affected will not be in vain. Hope is a reason for bold action both at COP26 but also in our own everyday lifestyles, in accordance with God’s will for creation. Hope applied to our lives frees us from despair and leads us from inaction to action.
Are you feeling hopeful today?
Creator God, Help us to not fall into despair when we witness the neglect of your wonderful creation, but fill us with the hope and desire that each one of us can put things right and make a difference in caring for the world you love. Amen
Jeremy Flack is the Green Apostle for the Eastern Synod and a member of Epping URC