The 20th of May is Endangered Species Day, another of those days put on to calendars to help one focus on something else. But I wonder how often we see ourselves as an “endangered species,” especially when one sees the cries coming from certain Christian elements in the US around the potential lifting of the laws to allow abortion.
That is extreme but I wonder how often when we see polls saying numbers of church attendance is decreasing, an increase in various ethnic groups, and a rise in the voice of LGBTQ groups, that some think that we are endangered. When we feel endangered we act in fear, panic and anxiety. It does not make us nicer to be around but makes us harsher.
The focus is meant to be about endangered animals, insects, flora and fauna, with the hope that we will care about our earth, our environment more. But if we are feeling endangered then we won’t want to do that. We will want to build our walls higher, make our voices louder, our weapons stronger.
Yet Jesus tells us that when we feel threatened we should “turn the other cheek”[Matthew 5:39], that we should “love our enemies”[Matthew 5:43-48]. He tells us not to be afraid and to trust God in all things. As Francis Spufford says in ‘Unapologetic‘ [and I paraphrase], one of the hardest things about Christianity is that it isn’t about following rules but about our heart attitude. And our hearts need to be trusting God, need to not be filled with fear or anxiety, need to be open to God and listening fully.
When the natural world is endangered it cannot get itself out of the mess humankind has got it into. It needs that self-same group, humankind, to make the change. But also sometimes with other people, they need to shout to be heard and need to get other people to help with the changes. So when we hear people of different “tribes” to our “tribe” shouting loudly because they need to be heard instead of shutting our ears, building our walls higher, etc we need to stop and listen. We need to really tune into what they are saying, listen to their fears, but also listen to our fears about why we have reacted as we have; of why we want to not listen, feel fearful, want to push the oppressed group down further.
Unlike the natural world we are the ones with the power to change and to make a better world. We do not need to react. We have the God-given power to act and act in a way that is beneficial for all. But only if we stop hardening our hearts, unblock our ears and really listen to the world – human and natural – and follow God’s true leading in how to act.
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