At the core of human hope in a better future for our planet are three possible assumptions.
1) The human race will fix the world’s problems.
We actually live in an amazing world where progress, science and learning has lifted many out of poverty and, in terms of basic necessities, life is generally trending better. However, there are hard questions to ask: are we lonelier because our wealth shields us from community? Do our news feeds, social media and handheld devices that wonderfully connect us to the world make us more anxious creatures?
Do our goals in ESG (Environmental Social and Governance) truly do less harm or more harm? Take the renewable energy industry for example as we move away from oil and coal. If the US shifts to more mining in poor countries because it refuses to industrially mine in its own state, how much oppression of indigenous communities, deals with insurgents, and child labor will really transpire? How much environmental destruction will occur? This is not an argument against renewables or good stewardship. Rather, a consideration of our propensity to solve one set of problems while creating others.
Do our means (like war in Afghanistan or buying up all the cheap resources from poorer nations like China) justify the end (protection of the state)?
Don’t lie to yourself that a one world order would be any better. Maybe for a short time, but eventually it becomes the matrix of control. We live in one of the safest times in human history but it becomes also one of the most dangerous by our own invention.
Most of us have little time or desire to think very deeply about the state and why it can never be our true savior. We may gladly honor our political leaders or serve its constituents, but there is no safe longterm hope in government.
2) God will fix the world’s problems.
Scholars have been working for a millennia to prove and disprove the Scriptures. They have made progress on both sides. Though theology does matter a lot, encountering a living God through the Scriptures is of higher value for our spiritual development. But does being more spiritual solve the world’s problems? We might ask about God, what we asked about the state. Does the means (human suffering and pain) justify the end (some kind of restoration of all things)?
If God were real and if he could bring a justice that restored all things to a better state than when they began, could we accept that? Could we at least hope for that?
Many people find Christian religion elitist, but consider it in terms of the border crossings that every nation has. If nations only require fees and papers, you are fortunate. Christian faith, on the other hand, is free for all. It is a borderless nation –no immigration needed other than accepting that God exists and receiving the gift of royal nationality and family. The path of Jesus does offer a viable alternative solution for our world but it is meant to guide nations, not rule them until Jesus return.
It remains a huge leap faith, though, to follow a God whose church fails to love her enemies like He does. This tarnishes the message of the church along with the thousands of heated theological debates the church is enslaved to.
Regardless, there are still many amazing followers of Jesus in our world. They come in many flavors, traditions and expressions. Although much of the modern church may be broken, but there are still many beautiful people who love God deeply and gather to worship with sincere and thoughtful hearts.
Considering the historical failures of all Abrahamic faiths, there is only one real hope for our world’s future and that is the return of Jesus. We need a higher wisdom and a purer heart to cut through our power struggles. This may sound like foolishness to many considerate and thoughtful people, but history does not indicate human beings are good at fixing the world or bringing longterm justice.
It is a mistake to “wait till Jesus returns” to do anything about our world’s future now. Doing so would poorly reflect God’s true heart today. This is a time when a clearer picture of His heart is needed for the matriculation of our planet’s leadership in the new world order (whatever that means exactly).
3) I only need to worry about my own problems.
If the state (or community) is not your savior, and God offers you no hope, then you are left with a final option, yourself. This is objectivist philosophy at the core – that human selfishness forces us to care for our neighbor at some level to improve our own quality of life. (See Ayn Rand’s work). It is a pragmatist’s approach that I should maintain more self-deterministic control over myself. It is based on the idea of human selfishness like free economics. Consumerism is based on human greed.
A significant problem here is the law of decay – “All natural systems degenerate,” (Lord Kelvin). So do all human systems which are part of the natural world. Whether the “I” is an island or an archipelago community, decay is active. The isolationist stance or the ‘what is best for me and my circle of friends’ quest may benefit a few, but it shows little stewardship perspective regarding the gift of the world for coming generations. Human selfishness might render less pain, but offers only temporary patches upon the ongoing decay.
Christians often follow a self-deterministic path too. Our ability to make choices and manage our own lives becomes a human rights issue. Right to choose. Freedom. Freedom is valuable for human dignity but there are things more valuable than freedom – love, service and hope to name a few. The Scriptures teach that our hearts’ freedom is found in spiritual truth, not circumstance. Is the church fighting the wrong battles yet again?
How are our choices down these three paths of thought going to impact the future generation? This is at least a less selfish question to begin to search for a way forward. If we accept that God is the one who is going to “save the world,” how are we asking him, in a sincere way, what our role and purpose is? Taking some time to determine this purpose may be wiser than our best ideas to fix or improve our world.