In the Bible we see God call his people to model a better way of living to the world around them: ‘to love God and their neighbour as themselves’ (Leviticus 19:18; Luke 10:27).
In the Old Testament God gives laws about living in ways that care both for people in poverty and creation. In Leviticus 25 there’s a revolutionary idea called jubilee: one year in 50 is like a ‘reset button’ for the economy and society. Debts are cancelled, slaves are set free, and animals and land are allowed to rest.
It’s a 3,500-year-old vision of a biblical economy where all people and all creation can flourish. When Jesus declares in Luke 4, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is on me… to proclaim good news to the poor… [and] the year of the Lord’s favour,’ he is referring to this same idea of jubilee – proclaiming freedom and restoration.
From creation and fall in Genesis, through to future renewal in Revelation, the Bible’s overarching story is about God wanting to save the whole world from the results of sin and offering restoration to everything that sin has broken. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God deals with sin and makes a way for all things to experience his healing, restoration and peace in the fullest sense.
With his help, we can play our part in this story of restoration. We can pursue a more just and sustainable world, where we continue to make progress but not at the expense of others or our planet.
This new way forward will require some huge changes to how we live, but we can uncouple our progress from damaging creation by shaping it around the biblical idea of restoration.
A ‘restorative’ economy would…
…Ensure everyone has the chance to flourish.
With 700 million people still trapped in extreme poverty, our economies must be made to work for everyone. This includes creating fair and just jobs, social protection for the vulnerable, and continuing current levels of overseas aid.
…Restore the balance in creation.
Working towards a world that no longer contributes to climate change is crucial. We should reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2045 and create a circular economy (keeping resources in use for as long as possible, for example, reusing and repairing). Getting there will require us to live within environmental limits, and giving God’s creation time to rest.
…Reduce inequality between the rich and poor.
Rebalancing our tax system will help reduce extreme inequality. If we tackle tax avoidance and shift the burden of tax onto activities we want to discourage (such as carbon emissions, single-use plastic and excessive concentrations of wealth), we can move it away from good activities
(such as work).
(Adapted from Tearfund UK’s pamphlet “Restoration Story: Playing Your Part So That Everyone and All of Creation Can Flourish”)