A Suggested Study and Discussion Guide
Global Risks 2014 

The World Economic Forum (WEF) just released its annual report, “Global Risks 2014.”  They go into detail of what they see are the 31 greatest risks to the quality of life on earth.  It is a report that intended to be “a stimulus for policy-makers, chief executive officers, senior executives and thought leaders around the world. “   However, as I have been reading the report, I think it can be a great resource for anyone to become better informed on the critical issues facing our planet.

I also think it is a great resource for churches and other organizations to use in a study/discussion group setting .  If I was still a parish pastor, I would use this document in just such a way.  The report groups the 31 risks into five risk categories: Economic, Environmental, Geopolitical, Societal and Technological.

Out of the 31, they prioritized their Top 10 which are as follows:  1) Fiscal Crises in Key Economies;  2) Structurally High Unemployment/underemployment;  3)  Water Crises;  4)  Severe Income Disparity;  5) Failure of Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation;  6) Greater Incidence of Extreme Weather Events;  7)  Global Governance Failure;  8)  Food Crises;  9)  Failure of a Major Financial Mechanism/institution;  10)  Profound Political and Social Instability.

As I looked over this list and the remaining 21 risks, I concluded that each one of these should be a concern of Christians and the Christian Church.  Looking at them as a whole, they are matters concerning the stewardship of the environment/creation, stewardship in the use of money,  peace-making, social justice, human dignity, health and well-being, war and violence and more, all of which are matters of faith and practice.

To be relevant in the 21st Century, the Christian Church needs to become more informed and greater advocates for the quality of life in this world.   Jesus talked much about the “Kingdom of God” in the gospels.   A common misinterpretation of what he meant by “Kingdom of God” was that he was referring to heaven.  He wasn’t!   When Jesus used the term “Kingdom of God,” he meant it primarily as a reference to the quality of life in this world.   For example, when he chastised the rich, it was in the first century context of great income disparity where 1-2 % of the population controlled the vast majority of the wealth.  His chastisement of the wealthy  and powerful was also a critique of the systemic injustices that resulted in such a disparity.   When he said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he was referring to peace-making  in this world.

A thorough understanding of the first century world context greatly enhances the depth and meaning of many of Jesus’ teachings .   We live in a 21st century context, and we face monumental problems as a planet and human race.  If our faith doesn’t better inspire and equip us to find approaches and solutions to these problems, then our religion is rendered irrelevant.  This dimension of faith and pursuit of such an endeavor is very much in the realm of what Jesus meant by “Kingdom of God.”

I encourage you to download this document and see it for what it is, an opportunity  for discussion and dialog, and to become better informed  about the issues of our time.

You can access it at this web address:  http://reports.weforum.org/global-risks-2014/

 

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