I’ve been thinking recently about big problems. I’ve posted about some of them on this blog…things like Canadian foreign policy in the middle east and such. Today it was the rather terrifying reality of global warming. Jin and I watched bits and pieces of a televised discussion forum on the dangers of pollution and global warming, and in particular Canada’s approach to these problems.
The environmental issue is, I think, one of the best examples of problems that are too big for us to grasp. I’m not entirely convinced that any group can honestly say they’ve wrapped their heads around all of the economic, social and environmental consequences of various theories on the environment. If we do X, then all of our grandchildren will have three arms, but if we do Y we’ll all starve to death because we won’t have jobs (another scenario that doesn’t turn out too well for the grandkids). The globalization effect is the same kind of thing. Is Wal-Mart evil or just a natural by-product of the best system we can come up with? The list of these big problems goes on and on and I continually ask myself how I should react to them.
Very often when I was growing up I heard people say that no problem is too big for God. I think that’s true, but also has the potential to be a tremendously dangerous idea. This is where many Christians (and conservatives from other religious traditions as well) get into trouble on the environmental issue. “If this is God’s world,” some say, “then He will take care of it and it will end when He decides no matter what I do” (yeah, I know it’s grammatically incorrect to capitalize the pronoun “he” in that sentence, but evangelicals do it all the time in an attempt to show respect for God using grammar so I thought I’d do it for the sake of authenticity). That kind of thinking scares me. We are responsible for the way we live in this world, including the way we live on this world. That being said, however, I think there’s a kernel of truth in this kind of pseudo-christian fatalism.
The are problems that are too big. They are too big for me or for you or for any one person (including, I think, individual world leaders like presidents and prime ministers). There are God-sized problems in the world. This does not mean, however, that we are not responsible. We have parts to play, even if they are small. I don’t buy the dichotomy that either God will save us or we must save ourselves. God will save us and we must save ourselves. There are things that we cannot do. We cannot alter hearts, we cannot be responsible for the nature of death and the next life, we cannot imbue to world with love and grace, we cannot be responsible for judgment and cosmic justice. Those things God must do. We can respond to God’s lead, we can allow our hearts to be altered, we can behave lovingly, gracefully and responsibly. Those who think that only God is responsible and those who think that only people are responsible are fools both.
God is responsible, and so am I.