Wednesday, August 3, 2011
It Is Meant to Be Done
“Hope is one of the Theological virtues,” writes C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity. “This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do.”
Hope is not an option.
What’s more, while we might think this hope for the eternal would thrust our heads into the clouds and out of the “real world,” Lewis notes it does something totally unexpected and precisely the opposite – the people who are most focused on the eternal world somehow manage to be the people who do the greatest good – and create the greatest positive change in the present world.
Hope is a force for change.
He cites examples. The apostles in the Roman Empire (and it was the Christians, not the Romans, who cared about widows and orphans). The evangelicals in England who worked for decades to bring an end to the slave trade. And we could add Martin Luther King and the fight for civil rights, and evangelicals battling today against the global sex trade in women and children.
Hope looks to the future and lands in the here-and-now.
It’s puzzling, at least at first. But consider how we mistake results for strategy. In business, for example, so many focus on sales – gaining sales – or reaching a certain profit level, or a return on equity. Years ago, I worked at a company where the primary corporate goal became a pre-determined return on equity. From that perspective, everything became a cost, and massive upheaval followed. The company made the target – for one year. Rarely do we stop to consider that sales and profits are an effect of doing things right and well – customer service, good products, a reputation for treating people fairly.
Hope is not a result; hope is a strategy.
It’s also easy to confuse hope for the eternal with the United States, and American culture. I once knew a pastor who carried a pocket Bible in his left coat pocket and a copy of the Constitution in his right coat pocket. He could speak eloquently on both. He combined American exceptionalism with Christian theology. As much as I want to believe that my country is a special, exceptional country, the fact is that my true citizenship is not here; it’s eternal.
Hope is not a nation, or a politician, or a celebrity; hope is eternal, about eternal things.
And because it’s about eternal things, it has terrific possibilities for now.
Hope is meant to be done.
We’re discussing Mere Christianity, led by Jason Stasyzen and Sarah Salter. To see more posts on the current chapter, “Hope,” please visit Jason’s site, Connecting to Impact.