The new oil

"The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it..." Psalm 24.1

A university friend put something in an email which alarmed me. It was his remark: "Nature is the new oil..." The fact that he heads up a business consortium was especially chilling. Are we to expect an influx of prospectors and investors gobbling up every scenic view and scrap of wilderness, to be exploited on the world's stock exchanges or milked for their cash potential?

I thought a cocktail of Covid 19 and climate change might prove sufficiently toxic to force even "big business" into a reconsideration of the way we value and handle assets, especially those that exist for the benefit of all. Or, to put it another way, those assets without which none of us can survive, let alone thrive. Or, again, those assets which are best conserved by those who have learned to enjoy them sustainably because they depend upon them.

The Bible talks much about possession and stewardship, respect for property and the dignity of all creatures, especially those made in the image of God, the Creator of all. The bottom line is that it all belongs to God. And whatever we may possess, be it territory or authority over others, we have it on loan from God. It is never ours to exploit.

Knowing that we must give account of our lives to God is a useful corrective for people of faith. But how are those who do not believe to be challenged, to whom should they have to give account? This is another area where the weakness of secular society is exposed. Without an ultimate reference point, how can you build a robust moral framework?

Perhaps it is not for us to worry about. It may be enough to know that there is a throne in heaven and it is occupied. God has everything under control. We know it by conviction and one day the whole world will know it through experience. In the meantime, the believer's calling is to draw attention to that greater reality through the way that we live, so that what may be invisible to the eye of the unbeliever is clearly reflected in the lives of those who do believe.

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