I think the root of a lot of fear in the world is rooted in uncertainty about the future.
When you don’t know what the future holds, it can cause crippling worry. In extreme cases of poverty and survival, it becomes the driving force. A starving person does not care about education or policy- they only care where their next meal will come from. That meal is the one thing that will keep them alive in the near future.
For those of us privileged enough to worry about the future in a different way, we have to name our fear when it takes over our thoughts and attitudes towards the future.
Eschatology of Hope
As a Christian, I am a firm believer in the idea that we have what Brian Zahnd in his book A Farewell to Mars, calls an “Eschatology of Hope.” This is a fancy theological term that basically means claiming hope in this still-very-broken world through the lens of and because of the belief that God has and will save the world. This world.
I think in popular western modern Christianity, an idea has been adopted without much thought to where it came from, who benefits, and if it is indeed, in line with the scripture we trust and the God we serve.
The idea is this: We will escape the brokenness of this world in death or in one violent armageddon of blood and fire. This idea gives believers a free pass on issues like conservation efforts and pollution control. If this world is going to be destroyed by God in the future anyways, shouldn’t we help and use up its resources now?
Ah, but what if…
God’s redeeming work through Jesus Christ and all humanity is not some future escapist reality? What if God plans to completely restore this earth to the Eden he called good in the very beginning?
When we let fear tempt us to this escapist form of thought, we give Satan a foothold. First, by allowing fear to inform our worldview and our faith. Second, by believing that God’s redemption of the world is limited to the few who have said a sinners prayer and will escape the mess the world is currently in. It is an exclusivity mindset. It is wrong.
As believers, we have the gift of a hope-full view of the future. We know that God wins in the end. He has decided, mercifully to redeem the world, humanity and physical creation as well. If we claim to believe that God is powerful, then we need to believe that he will do what he has promised to do. We have no reason to believe otherwise. In scripture, God always followed-through, just not always in the ways people expected or wanted him to. In a lot of ways, in his wisdom, God surpassed human expectations.
In that light, I invite you to this: Live in this world but do not be of it (John 15:18-19; Romans 12:1-2). Look around and see the goodness that God has made. Marvel at it. But then. Look around and see the brokenness and pain caused by human sin and Satan’s hatred. Grieve it. Lament it. Know it is real in the deepest part of yourself. Then know and choose hope for the future that will come. God will redeem. Through Jesus. And through us.
I truly believe that one of the most subversive, radical things that believers can do in this world is to look darkness in the face, know it is real and then, to choose hope and joy anyways. Then, we roll up our sleeves and get to work, because we know God is calling us, his people, to be participants in this holy, redemptive work in the world. God asks us to be a part of what he is doing, bringing about a glorious future.
This work is just that- work. It is not very glamorous, but little by little, one washed dish or a kind word at a time, God is redeeming this world. What have we to fear? We have hope. Our future is secured.