This term in Just Love, we’ve been exploring what it means to genuinely serve Jesus in our lives here and now. As lent begins, Miriam Tomusk shares her thoughts on serving Jesus in the light of history and the importance of caring for our planet.
‘Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on Earth as in Heaven.’ These are some of the most well known words for Christians of all walks of life, and yet I so easily forget their significance. For I’m praying for the kingdom and the will of God to be found here and now. Surely then I should be living a life reflecting my anticipation of God’s kingdom, not just content to watch a broken world break even more. To be a Christian is to live a life fuelled by the renewal that God has already brought us. Commandments throughout the Bible, from the Cultural Mandate in Genesis (‘Fill the earth and subdue it’) to the Great Commission in Matthew (‘Go and make disciples’) show how this renewal is to be brought about, tying in directly with social justice because they show the responsibility we have in bringing life to both the physical and the social world.
Admittedly, I’m still only just learning how I can incorporate social justice into my every day life. By seeing how other people around me make informed, ethical everyday choices, I’ve slowly been learning that I have far more choice and control over how I live. One of the most wonderful things has been coming to see how people’s other interests can inform how they get involved with social justice. Personally, I’m a historian who spends far too much time imagining what life in other periods must have been like. I’ve always envied the ability of people in past generations to live more simple lives, and this to me seems to offer alternatives to some of the problems faced today, such as mass overconsumption and waste. This isn’t romanticising the past (I’m very happy to live free of polio and with voting rights), but looking to it as a source of inspiration. I think this is why I’ve started looking into the zero waste movement, and it has been wonderful to see that my curiosity and desire to revive habits from the past and a more simple lifestyle can be combined with a social justice movement, that it can be a personal experience, yet one that’s connected to many around me. Another key realisation is that although we cannot solve everything, we can probably do more than we thought. My bamboo toothbrush won’t save the world, but it will be one less toothbrush thrown into a landfill; we may not solve the homelessness problem, but we can humanise and connect with those sleeping rough.
Thus my advice for those who are wanting to look into living in a more just way, is to begin with something that you’re passionate about. Be that ethical fashion, health, homelessness or another topic within the plethora social issues, our diversity ensures that we don’t have to feel overwhelmed for we know that no individual need (or can) do everything at once. On a more practical level, my interest in reducing waste has led me to take on the Plastic-Free Lent challenge. For anyone interested in something similar, a few tips would be:
- Begin with cutting out unnecessary single use plastic
- Use a tote bag instead of a plastic bag
- Use reusable plastic or metal water bottles
- If you need a straw, many websites, including Amazon, sell reusable ones
- Keep cups are a great alternative to one-use coffee cups
- Find out what you can get package free
- The Covered Market is great for food, as is SESI refill shop in the East Oxford Farmers’ and Community Market, especially for staples like pasta and rice)
- You can get plastic free shampoo and conditioner bars from Lush
- Bar soap is still readily available in many shops
This can all seem overwhelming, but Christianity ensures that the recognition of our limitations isn’t discouraging. We know the world isn’t as it should be, and we know that we are not the ones who can save it. Rather, we are secure in the knowledge that we have been saved- social justice is therefore not an attempt to save the world, but actions that result from the knowledge of our Saviour. Or as Jesus says in Luke, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor.” The kingdom comes first, and then the call to action.
Below are the resources rom our week 5 Just Lunch, The Steward – Climate and Creation. Take a look at the Bible study if you missed it, and we’ve also included some helpful links for the Plastic-Free Lent challenge.