This is part 2 of a two part blog. If you haven’t read the first part, please go and do so first.
I left off part 1 of this blog considering what the proper Christian response to an endangered creation or existence is, especially compared to Thanos’ response and actions.
At first, I immediately thought the obvious answer of a Christian response to human need and endangered creation would be the exact opposite to Thanos; not to destroy life, but to destroy greed and selfishness.
I know it’s cliche, but really what would Jesus do? Imagine there’s a plight (not that you really have to imagine one. just choose one that you know of) and Christians have the opportunity to interfere – say it’s practically exactly what Thanos is trying to avoid in a lack of food and essential materials and resources people need to survive. What would be the Christian thing to do? What would Jesus do?
I believe Jesus was turn our attention to the plight and bend our hearts so we would go out of our way to help; to offer our food, our clothes, our homes, etc. to those who need them.
I believe Jesus would challenge our inherent response to guard the things we have so something similar doesn’t happen to us.
I believe Jesus would could call out and convict us our selfish regard and have us consider what it means to love our neighbours as ourselves.
I believe Jesus would have us consider what God’s idea of justice is, what God’s ‘love for the poor, the orphan, the widow and the alien’ means.
However, these things do happen. they are happening. they are reality, and, while there are plenty of Christians involved with help and aid in the world, the general Christian response, at least in my experience, is minimal at best.
Thanos sees the best thing to do is to erase half of all life so that those who are left will have plenty of food and resources available to thrive. But the problem is that those who are left will continue to reproduce and the population will eventually grow again and continue to consume the planet’s resources. The problem will rear its ugly head again UNLESS our hearts change.
The same thing is true about humanity. God knew that it wasn’t worth destroying life again in the same way the Flood did, because, although things would get on the right track for a while, eventually things would spiral out of control again. We’d revert back to the same selfish things and over and over again, God would have to press the reset button. God knew that wasn’t worth it, so instead Jesus came, so WHEN these problems arise again, the price is already paid in full through the cross. And the cross is meant to be the event that changes the hearts of humans all over.
I believe the true Christian response to those who lack food, money, education, and basic needs and resources is to give what we can to those who need it more. Instead of erasing half of life to ensure there’s enough food, how about we waste less? How about we grow more of our own? How about we buy ethically? How about teach people how to farm and live sustainable lives?
Why aren’t these things more important to us? Is it convenience? Is it greed? Is it apathy?
Instead of committing to a more simple life so that others less fortunate might be able to live a little better, it’s so easy for us to just carry on in our ignorance. You know that saying, “ignorance is bliss?” It’s bliss because if we don’t know better it means we don’t need to change what we’re used to. It’s also easy for us to accept new branding or marketing without looking into anything on our own. And it’s typical for us as humans to move on and find something else to use or exploit when something is limited. This applies all the way to the extent of exploring options to living on other planets because we’ve, more or less, run through this one.
That is not what God had in mind for us when we were tasked to care for the land as ones made in God’s own image! Yet, that’s what we tend to do. And we fight for that right as well. And when Christians stand against corporate entities responsible for destroying and exploiting our finite resources, or governments withholding food and supplies for their citizens so as to hold all the power, they get silenced. They get called radicals. They get drowned out by the apathy the rest of the Western world and Western Church has because to do something about it might mean drastically changing what we eat, what we wear, where we live, the phones we have, the games we play, the money we make, the cars we drive, the coffee we drink, etc.
My initial response to Thanos’ thinking from a Christ-like position was purely theological. Of course Christ would have us care for the poor. Of course Christ would challenge our selfishness and encourage us to give. Of course Christ would have us show love and compassion in person and not from the safety of our lounge behind the screen of a phone or computer via social media posts.
But in reality, often times our practical reactions don’t match up with our theology. Often times we allow ourselves to be more influenced by marketing and consumerism. We live comfortably with many resources. I doubt anyone reading this blog is ever truly in want of anything. But the resources we consume are finite and much of what we consume is taken from other places where people are in want of things, every day!
our human greed and selfishness seems to give credence to Thanos’ plan. That’s why a lot of people initially sympathised with Thanos. We suck at being good humans a lot of the time.
Thankfully God promised not to wipe us all out again (though I find it hard to believe that the people at the time of Flood could have been as bad as we are in the world today), but instead sent Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins – IN THE HOPE that we would be so moved to change our hearts and actively seek the same sort of things Jesus taught.
Perhaps Thanos’ plan in Avengers: Infinity War wouldn’t be so close to home if more Christians and more churches pulled together to actually live sacrificial lives and love our neighbours as ourselves. What if the church was more active in human suffering? What if the church was more involved with ethical dilemmas? What if the church better promoted sustainable living? What if our actual goal was to provide hope to the hopeless and peace to those in turmoil?
It might be obvious on paper the difference between Thanos’ response and that of Jesus, but is our own response that different in reality? Sure it’d be easier to “kill” the problem than it would be to work and fight to change it, but is that the right thing to do? It’s never as easy as snapping your fingers and having it be done.
What can you do to make your theology better line up practically with your actions?
What would you like to see the church do better when it comes to social justice, poverty, and creation care?
Where would you like to see the church (and yourself) more involved in matters of human, social, and planetary needs?
What do you feel God is calling you to do, if anything, about the world we live in and the way you live in it now?