This series of posts, however many I end up doing, will consist of my thoughts on the kingdom that I have written in my journal over the past months as I’ve studied and read books. I will say that if you only read one rather than the whole thing they may seem unbalanced, but I will make an effort to be balanced in them as a whole. For example, what I write today will seem somewhat pessimistic as I present the reality of evil in the world; however, I will follow-up with a post all about our hope for the future.
So with that being said the underlying theme I will be dealing with now is the concept of human progress, and our ability to progressively, and eventually create God’s kingdom on the earth. There are many who hold this belief; however, I can not be fully on-board with it. I don’t believe that this concept is rooted in the bible, and I think that the early church knew that only God can build His kingdom in its full expression. As a side note you can read an earlier post related to that thought here.
I think the concept of human progress in this area is really rooted in the European enlightenment, grew in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and really bloomed in the late 20th and now early 21st centuries. From the late 19th century to now we have seen the advance of science, economy, freedom, wide-spread education, etc which has made it seem like we were on our way to tomorrowland, or wonderland. This works really well for political speeches; however, a trip around the world will prove that just because some people have these prosperities does not mean that all do. And at this point if you are to just quote Jesus in saying that you will have the poor with always, it shows where your heart is and its condition.
The concept of human progress does not account for the fact that as the wheat is growing, so are the tares. As our human advances are moving faster and faster, evil is still present and people are still suffering.
We speak of human progress sometimes as if we can create God’s kingdom within the world as humans. As I’ve said before we can build FOR His kingdom, but we can not create it. What I think is a closer truth is that only God can build His kingdom, and the full expression has been built elsewhere, and when Jesus steps back into this realm we will see. We sometimes act as if through progression we will eventually be made perfect. We sometimes act as if the world is ours and we can exploit and destroy it as we see fit. We sometimes act as if by our own hard work and education we can turn the world into the wonderland that we want. All of these things are exactly counter to being dependent on God’s grace. God creates, rescues, redeems, etc, and we can do nothing apart from Him. The best that we can do is only a minor expression of what He will do when He finalizes His kingdom.
You can pile up for yourself all of the progressive data you want, but it will remain helpless in acknowledging the existence of world wars, sex trafficking, child abuse, malnourished children, impoverished countries, and so on. If progress in our own power were true then these things wouldn’t continue to exist. Even though we have these proofs that progress in our own power is a myth we push it that much more, I guess it is an inconvenient truth when human suffering, and misery washes up in our face.
The real reason this is a myth is because evil is present, and the condition of the human heart is a struggle. There are studies that seem to show that there is more prosperity now than ever (it would take another post to address the abuse that comes out of this prosperity) and that there has never been a time in history better than now. That may be true, but it does little to eradicate evil. Evil will exist until the one true judge arrives to eliminate it. We as humans are incapable of doing so. We are ever flawed in our judgements. My misjudgments alone are enough to prove it.
If evolution (which is really what the concept of progress is) has given us the evils listed above then there is no reason to think that if we simply keep trying to get better as people, that these wicked things which have always existed will somehow suddenly go away because we are now better humans. The only suddenly that will take place is when Jesus steps back through the veil into this realm.
If we were to only believe in our own human progress we certainly would not arrive at wonderland. Two major views that come out of science related to the big bang theory is that it will eventually run out of energy, stop expanding, and everything will freeze, or gravity will eventually pull it all back into itself and implode. Not wonderland. The only hope, and optimism is in God and His kingdom, not man’s ability to build it.
Even if we were to somehow will ourselves into wonderland, it would not solve the problem of evil and suffering. Who are we to build ourselves a kingdom on the sufferings of others? We have been doing it for a long time, and it is evil. I don’t believe this is God’s plan. I think a closer truth is that Jesus will one day step in as judge and vindicate those who have been abused and do justice to the evil of this world.
The concept of progress is not able to deal with evil, and to go even further, it certainly has no answer for dealing with death. Only God, only the cross, only Jesus, only His kingdom can deal with these things.
I don’t know if I’m right, but I hope this at least gets you thinking.
God is for you, and I am for you!