URC Daily Devotion 3 May 2024

Friday 3rd May 2024

 

Matthew 16: 24 – 26

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.  For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

Reflection

There should be no doubt that the call of the Marks of Mission to “expose, subvert and transform” the practices of Empire is a deadly earnest endeavour. Empire always responds forcefully to resistance and Jesus’ words in Matthew 16 makes clear what to expect when we follow Him. We acknowledge the history of physical martyrdoms that have resulted from Christians refusing to deny Jesus’ name or stop preaching the Gospel, but when we respond to the call to “hear the groans of creation”, do we have the same expectations regarding the consequences? Put bluntly, do your endeavours to protect and nurture God’s world bring you into conflict with Empire? Litter picking, wild meadow planting, organising eco-fayres and recycling are necessary and responsible things to do. But they stop short of the radical call to challenge Empire’s destruction of the world through its sin-driven, cynical and vicious exploitation of resources for profit.

The climate crisis is no accident.  “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19) and all that opposes God wants to silence that witness of our physical world to the existence of an omnipotent, loving creator. The climate crisis is, ultimately, a spiritual crisis.  Whatever your view of groups involved in acts of non-violent civil disobedience and protest against the climate crisis, they have understood the depth of the problem and that nothing less than full-blooded opposition to the powers of Empire will do.  The arrests, fines, imprisonment, the increasingly draconian laws they face and the vitriol of the media against them are all Empire’s response to their challenge.

If our opposition to the continued exploitation of fossil fuels at the expense of millions of species and human lives doesn’t cost us inner tension regarding the extent to which our own lives continue to be embedded within the values and practices of Empire and create issues between us and that powers that are pursuing that exploitation, have we really understood what the fifth (first?) Mark of Mission really means?

Prayer 

Father,
give us the insight to understand 
the spiritual depth of the climate crisis.
Give us repentance for our contribution 
to the destruction of your world.
Thank you that we have the wonderful privilege
and terrible responsibility of living in such immense times.
Give us wisdom to understand how each of us individually 
must respond and the courage to play our particular part, 
no matter what Empire will.
Amen.

 

 

 

Today’s writer

Kate Chesterman is a member of Christian Climate Action

 

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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