Climate Justice - sufficiency

07 July 2021

To complete his series of blogs, the Revd Simon Topping,  encourages us to model the spirit of sufficiency or “enoughness” in our daily living and to actively challenge the “rich fool” economics which is leading to climate disaster. 

I remember as a child being told (I think in jest!) that a polite way of declining a second helping of food at a meal was to say: “Thank you, but I have had an ample sufficiency”. This may sound like a very old fashioned phrase today but the recovery of a sense of sufficiency is crucial in our struggle to achieve climate justice.

In a previous blog I referred to Paul’s desire for a “fair balance” between the abundance of some and the needs of others. In the same letter Paul goes on to talk about the sense of “sufficiency” that a Christian will feel when they are mindful of the blessings and abundant provision they receive from God. Feeling content with God’s provision, they are able to be generous with any surplus, sharing it with those who have a lack – so that a fair balance is achieved (2 Corinthians 9:8).

St. Paul also uses the same Greek word to describe his sense of “contentment”, rooted in his relationship with Christ, no matter what life may throw at him (Philippians 4:11). In our Methodist Covenant prayer we aspire to this same contentment or sufficiency in our relationship with God when we say “your will, not mine, be done in all things” – we seek to trust in God’s blessings and provision alone, no matter where we may find ourselves in life.

There is a direct link between catastrophic climate change and a global culture of “never enough”. The pursuit of “more”, whether in terms of personal wealth or national wealth (Gross Domestic Product), is pushing us well beyond the physical limits of our natural world. We have embraced the global economic model of the “rich fool” in the parable of Jesus, who builds bigger barns to amass ever greater possessions in the deluded belief that this will lead to long life and wellbeing. But God declares that storing up goods in this way does not lead to true richness.

In contrast to the rich fool’s quest for more, the sufficiency which God seeks is emphasised by Jesus through his words in the Lord’s Prayer: “give us today our daily bread”. In other words, we ask God for bread sufficient for today’s needs, trusting in God’s providence for tomorrow.

As Christians we have the opportunity to model this spirit of sufficiency or “enoughness” in our daily living and to actively challenge the “rich fool” economics which is leading to climate disaster. For it is only through this spirit of sufficiency that will we achieve abundant life for all and a sustainable relationship with the whole of God’s creation.

The Revd Simon Topping is a presbyter working in the Gloucestershire Circuit.

Read the first blog here, the second here, the third here , the fourth here and the fifth here

Read our latest news on Climate and Environment issues here.

More about  how to get your Church engaged with a Climate Sunday service and commitments here and find out about what a group of young Methodists from around the world are doing to raise awareness here