Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Activating all the gifts: Day Nine UN Climate Change Forum

As a Church Leader I have been excited to see the expertise and gifts of business leaders being used for the work of the Church. The wisdom and insights gained by business experience is a valuable contribution to the overall health of the church.

At the UN Climate Change Forum in Durban, South Africa, multinational business corporations are often vilified by those calling for rapid global emission reduction. Politicians are portrayed as puppets of business interests.

But according to negotiators from Canada, US, EU, and Australia, initiatives like the Green Climate Fund require the input of both public (government) and private (business) funding. They feel that in order for a robust fund to remain viable private funding will be essential.

Business entrepreneurs are also taking the lead in the development of green alternatives. From the creation of electric vehicles to new construction materials and new recycling technology, business ventures are providing new approaches. “We are about 25 years from battery operated airplanes,” reported one business leader.

As in the life of the church, I applaud the gift of business entrepreneurs. Like the church, the global family is incomplete without their gift set. In order to have the impact we need in creation care, we need all gifts employed.

As a faith leader however, I still have a persistent discomfort. My guess is that if we could, the world would unquestionably rush towards solutions of new technology: refining transportation needs with new fuel options and finding new energy sources for production needs. In other words, rather than reducing consumption levels, we could make our consumption levels cleaner. While this would make it possible to continue to feed our global appetites, it would leave our souls hungry.

Appetites are misleading. They grow when they are fed. Soon it takes more to satisfy, so consumption increases.

Sacrifice is a spiritual discipline designed to manage the urges of consumption. Left unmanaged appetites become greedy leaving us full but unfulfilled. The yearnings of the soul – right relationship with God and our neighbours – are drowned out by our hunger for more.

It is to our benefit to strengthen the capacity for sacrifice. Sustainability in God’s economy includes the function of sacrifice. It provides a vehicle to nurture collective care, so important for a healthy global community.

Creation care requires all the gifts and strategies we possess as a global family. We need new technologies. We need gifted entrepreneurs. We need committed governments. We need active sacrifice. With this portfolio of gifts, we have all we need to maintain a healthy global community.

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