In the gospel records several people approach Jesus asking what they need to do to live a good life. In his answers Jesus nearly always includes mention of the two great commandments: to love God with all one’s being and one’s neighbour as one’s self. One lawyer pushed Jesus further, asking; “But who is my neighbour?” To which Jesus replied by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan – the clear inference being that our neighbour is the person needing our love.
How we should be loving our neighbours has been apparent through several news stories in recent weeks. The migration crisis continues with great severity – not only in the Mediterranean and at the French Channel ports but also on the Austrian/German border. Thousands of people are desperately trying to escape from famine and conflict in their home countries, seeking better lives in Europe. How do we care for the people caught up in this or help the countries from which they have come?
Pope Francis in his long-awaited encyclical on climate change has blamed human selfishness for global warming. In his letter, he urges the people of the developed countries to change their lifestyles in order to avert the destruction of the ecosystem. Pope Francis said it was time for the world’s rich nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor. Failure to respond, he says, points to a loss of a sense of responsibility. Amongst many things in the encyclical that the Pope indentifies, is the need for the access to safe water to be recognised – a basic and universal human right.
How can Christians respond to these challenges?
One way is to be prepared to keep lobbying our leaders. On June 17th Alison Brittle, Rosie Banham and many others were up in London lobbying MPs over what the UK Government is doing to combat the potential ill effects that climate change will have, not only in Britain, but among the poorest people of the world.
Another way is to adjust our own life styles, critically looking at how we live. How much do we use our cars? How much do we use public transport? What effect does our living style have on the environment? Can we live more simply so that others can simply live? The developed world cannot go on disproportionately consuming more of the world’s resources without regard for the needs of everyone.
I am not sure exactly what it means to live a good life but I am sure that the 2nd great commandment of loving others as we love ourselves is part of it. I believe this is a challenge in which Christians should be offering a lead to the world, urging others to follow in the same way.
With best wishes