Am I my brother’s keeper?

As long as I can remember I have watched the excellent programmes about the natural world made by David Attenborough. Modern photographic equipment and colour television have enabled David to show us the wonders of God’s world in an amazing way. The pictures are often stunning and David’s commentary has popularised the Darwinian theory of evolution. Believers in Darwin’s theory find no place in their thinking for the living God. Everything has come about by natural causes. Impersonal “nature” rules supreme, we are on our own. When we experience problems, whether personal or global, there is no one to help us.

Sir David is now 87 years old. In a recent interview he starkly expressed the logical outcome of evolutionary thinking. He is deeply concerned about increasing world population and the problems associated with it, especially famine. He said, “If we do not control population, the natural world will.” He believes that sending flour bags to starving people is “barmy”. Famine, in places like the Horn of Africa, is the result of there being too many people and not enough land. He believes that the increase in world population means that human beings are “a plague on the earth.”

When we believe in the living God, who created and sustains the heavens and the earth, our perspective is very different. When God first created men and women he blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” As human beings we are responsible for the way we use the abundant resources God’s has provided on this unique and wonderful little planet. We are also responsible for one another. God’s two great commands are that we should love him with all our heart and also that we should “love our neighbour as we love ourselves.”

The increase in world population is a great challenge to us all. We are responsible both for God’s world and for one another. God’s amazing love for the people of his world has been revealed in Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let is not love with word and tongue but with actions and in truth.”


Hope in a World of Contrasts

We live in a complex world in which there are striking contrasts. This week the population of the world will reach 7 billion. 60% of the world’s population lives in Asia, including China and India, which account for 37% of the total. The rate of growth is rapid; from 5 billion in 1987 to 6 billion in 1999, and to 7 billion in 2011. The projection is to 8 billion by 2025. The implications of this growth in terms of the demands on finite resources are very significant. Wealthy parts of the world such as Europe and North America have a disproportionate share of the world’s wealth.

Amongst the billions of the people in the world every single person is precious. This was vividly seen last week in the amazing rescue of 18 day old baby Azra, who was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed apartment block in Ercis, in eastern Turkey, two days after the earthquake. It was very moving to see her being gently and lovingly held by her rescuers, and then being reunited with her mother and grandmother, who had also been rescued. Her father is still missing.

Last week marked the 44th anniversary of the Abortion Act in the UK. During that time there have been 7 million abortions in the UK. Each year there are more than 40 million abortions worldwide. The annual number of deaths worldwide, from all causes, is 56 million. In 2008 out of a total of 208 million pregnancies worldwide, 41 million (20%) ended in induced abortions. Many of these abortions are medically unsafe and some mothers die. Every mother undergoing an abortion procedure needs loving support and care.

In Psalm 24 the Psalmist declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it, for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” At the beginning of time he blessed the people he had created and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” The earth on which we live is unique. There is no other planet which is so wonderfully fertile with an abundance of water and life. This shows the Lord’s kindness to us all. His ultimate purpose in Jesus is that there will be a new heaven and earth filled with a great multitude of people that no-one can count from every nation, tribe and people.