‘not by bread alone’

One does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

Jesus’ response to the devil’s first temptation takes us to the heart of stewardship, which I’m suggesting is the key to our response to climate change. At root, stewardship is about trust. About taking God at his word. Relying on him to provide — in the way he (perfectly) sees is best.

In the face of Satan’s suggestion to satisfy himself (which is not purely external — as a human being, Jesus was undoubtedly hungry and thus vulnerable to such a suggestion), Jesus affirms his trust in God.

He does this by quoting Scripture. Obviously — and apparently easily — enough. But there’s something deeper going on here. Or rather, what it means for Jesus to quote Scripture in this context runs very deep. It runs to the essence of his identity and vocation. Ultimately, it’s about how Jesus is going to be the Son of God:

  • Will he choose to be the Son of God in the way Satan suggests? Will he look out for himself? Ensure his own comfort? And, in doing so, turn aside from the path of suffering that leads to the cross?
  • Or will he be the Son of God in the way that he implicitly took upon himself in his baptism? Accepting solidarity with his people — even in their rebellion and sin (John’s baptism was a sign of repentance remember)?

In their own way, each of the temptations with which the devil attempts to snare Jesus poses this question of identity and vocation. Thus, they throw up the issue of trust. Will Jesus trust God enough to walk the difficult path of obedience? Will he follow the trajectory that God has ordained and ratified in the announcement that this Son whom he loves is also the (suffering) servant in whom he delights?

For Jesus (at least) trusting God’s good provision and plan is not as obvious or easy as it might first seem. And it’s the same for us — we who share by grace in the sonship Jesus has eternally. Trust — which is the heart of stewardship — is easier said than done.

But it only takes a little imagination to begin to get a sense of what it will look like when it comes to our response to climate change. Doesn’t it? If we’re going to exercise trusting, Christ-like stewardship in God’s world, then on this issue (as on so many others) we must reject both paralysing fear and obsessive, proud, self-making survivalism.

In particular, I want to suggest, that we must refuse to play the ‘Let’s Endlessly Debate Who (If Anyone) Is Responsible So We Can Work Out Who To Blame’ game. Not that we won’t honestly acknowledge the various contributions made by different parties at different levels. But that we do so in order to determine how we can best move forward.

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if the churches led the charge on this?

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