a voice crying out in the postmodern wilderness

Selling Utopias

Selling Utopias

If you pay attention, you'll notice that nearly all worldviews have the promise of "if only." 

If only we had traditional conservative values, this country would be great again.

If only we had more compassion for the poor and less stodgy conservatives, this country would be a progressive wonderland.

If only we had guns in the hands of good guys, bad guys would run.

If only we got rid of guns, we'd be safe.

These "if only" statements are never satisfied, of course. We cannot manipulate the world according to our opinions, and how laughably arrogant we are to even want to. 

The truth of the matter is that these "if only" statements are rooted in a hunger for heaven. When we try to sell the idea of our utopia, we are really trying to bring heaven down to earth - and I'm afraid this isn't our job. But try we will.

We even do this utopia-making on little things. If we can just get that raise, or that new car, or go on that vacation. Advertisers tap into this desire, and subliminally try to convince you that the newest erectile dysfunction drug will save your marriage and make your wife want to have sex with you. But these silly little games (and we all play them) always end in disappointment. 

This world is not utopia and until Jesus returns, it won't be. And this is the bankruptcy of most worldviews, because most of them play "if only." Utopia doesn't exist in a broken world full of broken people like me. Your utopia shatters when regular people like, well, humans are involved. And humans are always involved.

Christianity provides for our brokenness and the pain all around us. When you become a Christian, your life will not become a breeze. In fact, it might become even harder. And that's reality right there. That becoming a Christian doesn't perfect your life immediately is not only in keeping with Scripture, but also consistent with experience. Reading Genesis 3 is like looking into a mirror if we read it attentively. Sin is real, and we need help.

Those who try to sell utopias do so at the expense of some other people group. Conservatives want liberals to float into the Pacific on a California-shaped float. Liberals want conservatives to get with it or move to another country. And it gets darker. The Nazi utopians wanted non-Aryans eliminated from the earth to create their utopia. North Korea starves in oppression as their "utopia" is played out. Attempts at creating utopias ironically tend to provide a pseudo heaven for some and hell for others. (The hell is probably closer to reality than the false heaven.) If I try to create my perfect world and you mess it up, I have do something about that.

We will live horrendously sad lives if we give into the idea of the possibility of a utopian world. And be careful that you don't start nodding your head in agreement too quickly, because I think we all believe the utopian lie to a degree - and to the degree that we can kill this false hope we will become more joyful and adjusted people.

There is a perfect place where there are no tears, no betrayals, no lies, and no death. It won't be a bunch of boring clouds, but rather a perfect redemption of this place we call earth. You might even call it a utopia. But this place is not great only because there's no pain. It is great because of something - someone - who is there. 

I think Jesus chuckles at our weak attempts at creating heaven on earth because he knows heaven is so much greater than we can dream up - because he is so much greater than we can fathom or yet experience.

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