The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for God founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.” Psalm 24:1-2
Global Ministries partnerships are based on trust, mutual respect, common visions for a just creation, and shared faith in God. Through our relationships with global partners we become aware of the realities of life for communities around the world. We share mutual concerns with our partners when the integrity and dignity of creation and of the communities our partners inhabit are compromised.
We have long heard our partners speak about the significant impact of globalization in their communities. In recent years they have conveyed with urgency the rapidly accelerating rate of globalization. Through their written and spoken reflections, our partners have shared with us how globalization has increased opportunities for their local communities to engage with others worldwide. However, we have also heard their protests against the ways that economic and political powers have taken advantage of local communities worldwide through these widening avenues of global engagement.
Our Theological Lenses
We have reflected on three theological lenses, drawn from scripture, which inform how we perceive what are just global relationships in the economy or household (oikos) of God. First the Psalmist reminds us that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Ps. 24:1). We affirm that we are one creation; we are all made in the image of God and all share in the blessing of God that calls all creation “good” (Gen. 1:31). As humans we have the responsibility to be wise stewards of the created world (Gen. 1:26). No person or part of creation should be desecrated or exploited for the exclusive benefit of some, but rather we should seek the sustainability of the earth and the public good.
Our next lens is shaped by Jesus' ministry to the poor and marginalized. Jesus gave special care to the outcast and dispossessed, who he tells us have a special place at the banquet table in the reign of God (Lk. 14:15-21). Like the prophets before him, Jesus says those who exclude or mistreat the oppressed or who are self-righteous in their good fortune will be judged. Jesus claimed Isaiah’s prophetic witness to bring good news to the poor and freedom to the captive (Isa. 61:1-2; Lk. 4:18-19). It is out of this gospel mandate that the church calls society to care for the poor and most vulnerable among the human family. Our economic rules and structures must neither allow nor rely on the capacity of the wealthy and powerful to reap profit from the needs and wants of the poor.
The last lens considers the biblical principal that there will always be enough for all when we seek to ensure that all have enough. With faith we affirm that God provides for our needs even as we care for one another, just as God provided manna to the Hebrew people in the wilderness (Ex. 16) and to the multitude on the hillside that Jesus fed with the few loaves and fishes (Mk. 6:30-44). Jesus urged his followers to demonstrate this trust and mutual concern as they formed their early community of believers (Acts 2). God’s grace, sufficient and freely given, urges us to establish relationships where we meet each other’s needs for mutual security and sustenance, instead of acting in self-interest and distrust based on the belief that resources are valuable merely because of their scarcity (Lk. 12:22-34). Even so, our global partners from communities whose prayer for daily bread is desperately real caution us against a too-comfortable theology of abundance that expects prosperity from God, which may only serve to comfort the conscience of the affluent.
We are informed by these theological understandings of God’s blessings and grace that we share with all of creation as we engage in reflection with our global partners on globalization and the state of our human economy.