Some people are panicking. Others are rejoicing. Still others even raced to have their baby be THE 7 billionth person born on Planet Earth. And still others are totally oblivious to the fact that our world is quickly growing smaller and smaller with each passing day.
How did this happen? (well yes, I know HOW it happened… had that talk a long time ago)… How does this change our view? Should it? Will it? Canada being a multicultural society with political borders generally more open to refugees, and immigrants, what kinds of dialogues must we begin to have.
I don't have researched percentages for you, but I do want to share some realities that could put into perspective how believers can be a part of this teeming 7 billion as kingdom bringers, rather than people destroyers.
– we are running out of fresh water, & other natural resources
– families are still dying due to extreme poverty, or the effects thereof (malnourishment/starvation, disease, conflict in various regions)
– systems are still in place, in free market societies as well as harsher regimes, that oppress people of colour, sexual orientation, social class, education, religion, or location
– in crisis, people naturally react by 'defending their own'
– slaves in the world are numbering 30 million and rising
-… not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea
… and believers are often found targeting marginalized groups of people — at the very least calling them down as lazy or unwanted or illegal. At the worst… well… history speaks enough for itself what believers have done in the name of God, and yet we insist on still believing that our governments were founded on Biblical principles and godly intentions.
Some thoughts to put some perspective on our populations growth:
– we are ALL the 7 billion… we can choose to seek justice, compassion, and love for our brothers and sisters or we can insist on setting ourselves apart, thus helping keep in place those hierarchies of race, religion, class, or orientation. We are all human, and Christ died once for ALL. Fear has no place for us as we face changes in our futures. We are called to be neighbours — to everyone. Period. This is a core part of the Gospel we tend to gloss over in favour of high-sounding theology that stemmed from superiority and not grace, despite attempts to erase our histories.
– we will be called to sacrifice… when unjust systems are toppled, as they will be, many of us will find ourselves without work, without sociel networks to supplement our incomes, without pensions even. Do we trust God to provide, or do we trust our governments THAT MUCH that these incomes have become our inherent rights based on our work ethic? If it is the latter, we have neatly nullfied the grace and provision of God. Yet when people suffer because injustice is addressed, how will believers lovingly and eagerly support those who have lost out?
– we will be called to relinquish power… Christians were never called to DOMINATE. Yet this is what we have done for far too long in many countries, but especially in Canada and the United States. When believers panic over too many immigrants coming to our shores, we forget that every person was or is an immigrant on these shores. We forget just how much land and resources we have to share. We forget that we are to gladly welcome the alien in our midst. And we forget that what we have is not inherently OURS. We are stewards… nothing more. So when someone of another religion runs for political office, or helps develop new school curriculums, believers must cease and desist this resistance based on fear. We've lived the high life for far too long. We took this land (still do), its people and called it Christian, so this is where are minds tend to focus our lenses on. "If we don't stop The Global Community, we will have a Muslim for a prime minister, and gays will be teaching our children in schools!"
Either we choose to continue being the bully in the sandbox, or we learn to share.
Believers are called to be in relationship with people around us, loving them above ourselves. I look at the Occupy Movement, and hear believers scoff and snarl at it to the point where I think: "D'uh! No wonder they don't want anything to do with Christ. Christians are pretty damn mean." (not all of us, I hope, but enough that the venom is seeping through our Body faster than we think). Yet Christ did not call us to create "Christian" societies, and force our values onto others. If we're that scared of being led by another of a different faith, put yourself in their shoes. How afraid or angry are they at us?
– we will be called to tear down dividing walls… too often, believers make snap judgements based on urban myths, realities that perhaps were true 10, 20, 30, 100 years ago (but are no longer so), our own selfish desires (see the point about stewardship and being a neighbour), and… you guessed it!… fear. Fear we won't get what we deserve, fear our kids will go hungry, fear that Christianity is coming to an end… fear, fear, fear… how deceptive it is!
– we are and will be called to choose our allegiance… will it be to our relatively young nations and our governments? Or will it be to Christ? You see, we do not get to pick and choose who's a neighbour and who is not. We all are. Canada will tumble. The US will tumble. This whole dying world will topple — however that looks. If we think our great country is immune to such endings, we are delusional and deceiving others along with us.
We must choose where are treasures lie: in love God and others first, which is a life that will never end? Or futilely defending our relatively safe and secure ways of life that tend to put others on the outs? This option will be stolen by theives, rusted out, and eaten away at by moths.
This 'social gospel' or 'social justice movement' has its roots firmly embedded in Jesus Christ as THE Word. We are not Nazis (as some have purported, afraid that Hitler is returning to destroy capitalism), and we do bear His Truth, unlike current claims to the contrary. So I ask you today: who are you as a believer, and who does God wish you to be?
7 billion are a lot of neighbours… we're going to need some more tea.