Tired of making the world better?

By Joel A. Hess

Surely since Plato’s republic—no, further back—since the builders of the tower of Babel, humankind has pursued the building of a perfect place, a perfect order, a perfect city, a utopia. Now, of course, it seems only natural from a young age to seek out a good existence. I recently cleaned up an area for my home office. I am surrounded by beautiful books, pictures of past adventures, and the perfect desk and chair that faces the German red bricks and stained glass windows of the church building I preach in. Utopia, at least for a moment.

From politicians, philosophers, generals, and business heroes, many plans for a utopia have been proposed and even tried. Yet all of them eventually crumbled, some quicker than others. The twentieth century witnessed many earnest campaigns toward making the world a better place. Adolf Hitler, Vladmir Lenin, and Mao Tse Tung were all dreamers who only wanted to clean things up and bring order to the chaos of all our lives. You kid yourself if you think that such people were evil, as if they woke up every morning scheming about making the world a worse place to live. No, they considered themselves passionately good. They truly wanted to bring a utopia to your neighborhood.

However, when man designs a utopia, it usually means getting rid of people who are in the way.  In the recent Avengers movies, the heroes fight the ultimate super villain, Thanos, except Thanos wasn’t Dr. Evil. He just wanted to make the universe a better place. The horrors of poverty, hunger, war drove him to his final solution. Unfortunately, in order to achieve an ecological, economical, and political balance, half the universe’s population had to die—sacrifice themselves for the common good. Ironically, Thanos is all too real a character in the person of Margaret Sanger, leaders of the abortion lobby, or extreme environmentalists. There is literally no difference, except in America some consider them heroes. But don’t you dare think that these groups wake up and desire to do evil. They want to remove suffering from the world! Utopia doesn’t have suffering in it. Therefore, remove people who suffer, might suffer, or might cause suffering.

Our culture promises personal utopias. If you follow your heart, you will find peace. If you just be you, you will achieve balance. If you change your body, you will be one with the universe. Amazingly, with the use of technology, we can fulfill the craziest dreams, at least on the outside. While we dream that total freedom to “do what you want” brings peace, we ignore that our desires are not frequently good.

While the above may seem obvious to many who consider themselves conservatives, there are other groups who are seeking to make the world a better place. Many Christians have hopes in changing laws, electing leaders, and removing sinners in order to perfect our world. If we bring prayer back to school, if we put the Ten Commandments up in our courthouses, if we put in God we trust on our coins, then we can make America great again.

Many churches preach a better world here on earth with gusto. They offer classes for perfect marriages, perfect families, perfect finances. The list of activities on their website look like a counseling center or a low level community college. They might not have a master plan for making the world a better place, but if you follow Jesus with all your heart, you might make your life a better place.

Every attempt at utopia has crashed and burned, whether from the right or from the left. So it goes with our lives as well. The perfect body you have been exercising is getting older. The perfect family falls victim to the loss of a job, a husband addicted to porn, or a daughter who rebels. 

All our self-made utopias will turn to dust. Yet there is one utopia that is quite real. It doesn’t come from a conservative politician or a liberal culture. It isn’t based on mankind changing anything. It will not be achieved by your participation at all! It won’t be accomplished through the death of the weak, the reversal social mores, or the obliteration of plastic straws.

It’s coming whether we like it or not. Christ is coming, and with Him the new heaven and the new earth. All our utopias will be destroyed. Good riddance too. For this one is everlasting. A new world without suffering, sin, hatred, confusion, temptation, Satan or leaders leading us astray!

The utopia that is coming is a gift from the one who created a utopia in the beginning yet watched it be destroyed by His greatest creation: humankind. Yet instead of doing a Thanos and wiping everything out, He sent His Son to make it right by allowing Himself to be destroyed. God sacrificed Himself for you, for all humankind. His miracles of free food, healthcare, and even rising from the dead were utopian signs of that great perfect world that is coming.

This utopia is yours for free. When you are done trying your best, when you are done making a better world, when you are done making a better body, a better family, a better morality, a greater America, Jesus’ gift and promise is yours. 

One thought on “Tired of making the world better?

  1. I understand where you are going in this post. I used to believe that I had a spiritual “master plan,” a utopia of my own imagination in which I could finally feel some sense of worthiness before Our Lord, but the old mean natural man in me is yet to be conquered. “When does my sanctification finally show some evidence in my carnal and contrary character?” I ask myself this question, but the Heavens remain silent, and I have no answer. As I am going through a temporary (hopefully so) period of anger and dismay over some issues in my life, the righteousness I seek escapes me, and that mean old bitter son of Adam demands to have his way. Why? Why do we behave and speak rashly and contrary to our stated values as believers? Why is peace elusive when one really needs it? Where is my spiritual utopia, which I had built over many years of intensive daily Bible study and prayers? Why does the word of God seem to be something I cannot reach easily for comfort and guidance? As you have said here in your thesis, I must seek the utopia through the promises of Jesus, and I suppose I can trust that even hard days like this, when one’s faith and testimony is tested, must pass into history on the way to the celestial city. Soli Deo Gloria. JJF

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