There seems to be a lot of despair these days about the state of things. Two people are running for president whom it seems everyone hates. Changes in bathroom policies – of all things! – are happening out of the blue and at record pace. We are debating the shooting of a gorilla to potentially save a child’s life. It seems the economy is never settled; everyone is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Isn’t every country swimming in insane amounts of debt, after all? Oh, and we’re starting to wonder if God is keeping His promise about that whole flood thing down here in Houston.
In discussing all of these matters with my 93-year-old grandmother recently, she encouraged me to think of something else to talk about. Apparently, I was “depressing” her! And that tells me I am doing a poor job of communicating the fact that I am finally hopeful. I’m also just realistic that circumstances are not always in our favor.
But if our immediate circumstances do give us cause for concern – and when have they not? – what is our hope? Like Jeremiah scolding the false prophets for offering “Peace, Peace, when there is not peace”, we should not presume to look for a better world where it will never come. Rather, the source of all our hope has to be God, because He alone is sovereign in all of our affairs. I don’t think this means, as the prosperity preachers might say, God will soon make our lives and our world better. It only means He is the source of whatever hope we have.
But if I can’t take comfort in some certainty that tomorrow will be better than today, I take comfort that, in the end, God’s Laws always wins. You see, the entire universe was created by God, and it is thus ordered by God. “What goes up must come down” is the reality in God’s world on a very grand scale. So all of the craziness we see around us today will come to an end. It must. Because if it is contrary to the universe as designed by God, it is destined to fail.
Take God’s moral law, for example. We wring our hands about our changing moral landscape, but we often forget that the earliest Christians lived and ministered in virtual moral cesspools. But ignoring God’s Law will not and cannot lead to positive results that a society will want to embrace if it wants to survive. Embracing a pornographic and adulterated culture, redefining marriage, systematically ending life before it leaves the womb, and even tolerating a culture of flattery, narcissism and lying are not ways to build up a future society.
It won’t work. It can’t work. Because God’s universe is ordered to work as it was designed. We are designed to be married, male and female, to be faithful in marriage in both mind and body, to create and therefore protect innocent life and to be honest because we are made in God’s image. A society that negotiates on any of the above (let alone all that is not mentioned) will find itself swimming upstream rather quickly. So it may be a rough 100 years, but God’s moral law will win out. It has to.
Does God care about economics, too? Of course! Why wouldn’t He? Economics is not the study of money, after all. Well, not really. Economics is the study of people and allocation of resources. In the church we call it “stewardship”. But economics is rooted in the same God-ordered reality that our moral law is rooted in. It has to be, because God created everything. So fiat currency, ridiculous levels of debt and other triggers will surely lead to an economic bust. Just as our moral rebellion will take a while to play out, so will our economic rebellion. But when it is played out, a real and better economy will be possible precisely because God’s laws are immutable. That’s not to say a better or fairer economy has to emerge. Only that it can.
What about societies at large, like our own American experiment, or what we might even call an empire? It should come as no surprise that empires have a beginning, middle and end. They always have. When empires extend beyond the laws of this universe, they collapse, usually from the inside out. The factors of such collapse are myriad and contextual, but the collapse is always predictable, given the sinful people that always end up running them. (That sinful people run anything is also unavoidable.) America is a successful nation (by historical standards) because we learned from previous collapses. And all of that collective wisdom got us 200+ pretty good years, and I’m sure another 50 or so at least. But this empire will be one for the history books, and another will rise from our ashes. Because, to the extent that we leave God’s Law in the rearview mirror, how could we hope to order a society that would last?
Well, I guess I don’t sound all that hopeful. But our hope is never in our life indefinitely persisting as it is. The hope of the Christian is the Kingdom of God lasting forever. And, as Christians, we are caught up in that Kingdom. That’s where our hope ultimately has to rest.