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DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Our Finest Response IS Needed

Written by: on February 12, 2015

Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone describes “active hope” as a practice, something that we must do rather than have. Stating that this active hope is a process that can be applied to any new situation involving three steps: a clear view of reality, defining a clear direction that we would like things to move-in or values we would like to see expressed, and finally, we take steps to move ourselves or our situation in that direction.[1]

The difference, say between, passive hope and the active hope that the authors bring forth in their book is that active hope is a choice guided by the impetus of intention to bring about the desired act or expression desired. What is this desire? It is to act in such ways that brings forth our finest response to the multifaceted crisis of sustainability that our planet currently suffers under.[2]

This active hope is described throughout the book, but not as being dutiful or worthy, but rather is a stepping out into a state, that the authors refer to as, “aliveness that makes our lives profoundly satisfying.”[3]

The authors make a passionate plea for a new and different human response regarding the precipice of our “impending doom and the catastrophic existence” that we currently enjoy today to an epochal transition from an industrial society committed to economic growth to some type of society that is life-sustaining and committed to the healing and recovery of our world. This is essential plot of the book and referred to as the Great Turning.[4]

The authors address our current story as being first “business as usual.” This story deals with the unfortunate reality that people are living their lives in an all out desire to consume, and how they eventually become consumed by the American/western dream that pushes them and calls them to increase their consumption. In a mad rush to acquire the profits that consumption can generate, businesses continue to increase their production and transportation of goods that affect society as a whole. Authors like Bauman would agree to the affects that such globalization generates, but differentiates from Macy and Johnstone as to the identity of collateral damages. Far more important than the issues of our planet and depleting natural resources is the lack of concern for our fellow human that suffers in the “jet fuel wake” of our globalization progression.

Does the way we currently live our consumer driven life affect the greater good of humanity and our planet? Of course the answer is “yes.” The way we handle or mishandle our natural resources and the continual pollution of our water and land should be of concern to every person, but especially to those of the household of faith. It was to us believers, grafted into the root and stock of spiritual Israel, that continue in the Adamic Covenant to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over all living things. This charge was a charge of caring for and tending to the needs of all God’s creation. So the Christian should do our connected part toward the natural world/God’s creation.

Though I believe that there is a crisis in our day, I disagree with the authors that that ultimate crisis and need for immediate emergency response is the deterioration of our physical planet. Oh, indeed, there is a crisis that we must address and perhaps we could use some of the understanding found in this book, however, I do not believe the crisis of our day is the issues dealing with our planet. The crisis that I believe needs our greater attention is that of eternal souls that currently lie in the valley of decision and perish daily without ever having heard the reconciling message of a loving God found in Jesus Christ.

It was interesting that my February 11 devotional this week out of Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest was in regards to one’s hope in God fainting and dying. Juxtapose to the authors active hope, i.e., impetus of intention to bring about the desired act, Chambers provokes us to recollection of God and his goodness toward us which will then bring hope that will be inexpressibly bright. It is to my gratitude of God and the recollection of His goodness that I must turn to look at the future and in so doing, gain the hope that is needed to bring forth our finest response to the human crisis. To Go into all the World and make disciples is the pressing need or our time and to this end I will continue to press forward actively hoping in God’s goodness and faithfulness!

[1] Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone, Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We’re in without Going Crazy (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2012), 3.

[2] Ibid., 4.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid., 5.

About the Author

mm

Mitch Arbelaez

International Mission Mobilizers with Go To Nations Living and traveling the world from Jacksonville Florida

5 responses to “Our Finest Response IS Needed”

  1. mm Deve Persad says:

    I always appreciate your consistent passion for those who have yet to know Christ as their Saviour, Mitch. “The crisis that I believe needs our greater attention is that of eternal souls that currently lie in the valley of decision and perish daily without ever having heard the reconciling message of a loving God found in Jesus Christ.” I found the book to be insightful for the way it helps stimulate ideas toward initiatives that we’re involved in, however I also disagreed with a few of their premises and their outlook. I think I read a quote from C.S. Lewis this week: “If we keep first things first, we get the second things as well, however, if we make second things first, then we lose both.” – Our concern for the earth is certainly secondary to our desire for people. What have you found helpful to keep first things first?

    • Wonderful Deve.
      Glad to know that I not the only one who struggled with this book. Coming off of the high of public theology and contextualization it was a bit of a downer to not see my Jesus in this reading.

      Love that quote from CS Lewis. He has to be my favorite author.

      In our passion and enthusiasm for lost souls we must keep even this in proper perspective. The first thing, the very first thing, is our passion and love for our God. Keep that first and truly all things, even our desire to evangelize souls, are all put in right perspective. A continual seeking Him in His Word, in prayer, through the joy of family, through song and dance, through play and work, all of this helps us keep the main thing the main thing. For He is, and always will be, the main thing. Not the planet, nor lost souls. It is our love for Him that motivates our passion for the lost and even for our care of the planet. Amen?

  2. Michael Badriaki says:

    Rev Mitch! Firstly, great title on this post. When I stopped to reflect on the authors concern about the mess in which the earth is and the looming crisis the planet might face, I sought to balance their notions with message of the gospel and biblical eschatology. What about people and the predicament of sin? “Active hope” can not save in and of itself. I certainly understand that the authors do not mean to describe “Active hope” in those terms yet if they seek to address “pass hope” in regards to planetary issues, both personal and corporate sin should be discussed. This is why I agree with you words, “Oh, indeed, there is a crisis that we must address and perhaps we could use some of the understanding found in this book, however, I do not believe the crisis of our day is the issues dealing with our planet. The crisis that I believe needs our greater attention is that of eternal souls that currently lie in the valley of decision and perish daily without ever having heard the reconciling message of a loving God found in Jesus Christ.”

    Well said!!

    Michael

  3. mm Julie Dodge says:

    Brother Mitch –
    Indeed, the greatest tragedy we face is the loss of souls who never know our Lord. And yet I might also suggest that in caring for the creation that God commanded us to tend to, we model the care and compassion for our brothers. Finding that balance of prioritizing the eternal, while living in a manner that promotes the eternal is delicate. Those who don’t know our Lord watch our actions and wonder if we “get” the crises of our world. They long to be seen and heard. They want us to care for the creation we were commanded to care for because to not do so reveals our hypocrisy. At least in the eyes of the world. So the priority must always be God’s people, yet how we live that out, how we model His love and creativity, also has an impact.

    • I don’t think I disagree with you Julie. That is why I wrote….

      “Does the way we currently live our consumer driven life affect the greater good of humanity and our planet? Of course the answer is “yes.” The way we handle or mishandle our natural resources and the continual pollution of our water and land should be of concern to every person, but especially to those of the household of faith. It was to us believers, grafted into the root and stock of spiritual Israel, that continue in the Adamic Covenant to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over all living things. This charge was a charge of caring for and tending to the needs of all God’s creation. So the Christian should do our connected part toward the natural world/God’s creation.”

      I am simply advocating for the greater focus being placed on people over planet. Seeking first the Kingdom and all other things, including the planet, would be taken care of. Bless you my friend.

      Mitch

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