I hope over the course of this little series I’ve been able to show that, whilst we do need a heavy dose of humility and recognition of where we haven’t got it right, there is so much within our theological underpinnings that we can bring to the table, including the Incarnation, eschatology, and anthropology. Christians have a unique faith and, therefore, unique emphases that we carry with us.
Perhaps one of the things that makes us most unique is the Christian emphasis on the cross: on the fact that the God we follow became a human being and allowed himself to be killed in order to put back to rights all that had gone wrong in the world, between humans and God, between humans themselves, and between humans and the wider creation.
The bottom line, therefore, is that we follow a sacrificial God: a God who was prepared to empty himself and take up his cross, and who asks his followers to do the same.
When it comes to sustainability this is crucial. Yesterday’s report from the IPCC only served to highlight again how serious the problems are and how urgently we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. All the current thinking says we should be cutting our current carbon emissions by 80-90% in as short a time as possible. The Stockholm Institute’s much-discussed work on the nine planetary boundaries says that we are in serious trouble if just one boundary is crossed, and yet three may have been crossed already.
Sometimes our talk of sustainability gives the impression that if we eat a bit less meat, cycle a bit more, turn the thermostat down by a degree and recycle our carrier bags then all will be okay. Well, the sad news is it won’t. If we are going to take seriously the need to reduce our emissions by 90% then that will impact us. B.I.G. T.I.M.E. There is no easy way to say this: we are going to have to make sacrifices.
That isn’t a message that people like, me included. I want my comfort and my convenience and I don’t really want to be told that I might have to do without some things for the sake of other people and the wider creation. For all the good of the Transition Movement (and I do believe it is very good), it still gives the impression of nice people installing solar panels, eating delicious local food and, generally, making their lives a bit nicer for themselves. Transformation won’t happen like that.
So if you are reading this as a Christian, what does it mean for you to pick up your cross and follow Jesus? What sacrifices do we need to make in order to live more simply so that others and the wider natural world might simply live? What are some of the changes and choices that you (and me) will need to make in our lives?
If, as Christians, we can allow our faith to impact our own lives in this way, then maybe our emphasis on the cross gives us something else we can offer to others who are also trying to build sustainable communities.
What do you think?
 Of course, the cross is incomplete without the resurrection and we follow a resurrected, sacrificial God. But, it’s time for me to bring this series to a close and leave it to someone else to pick up that theme if they so desire…!