Written by T. M. Suffield |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
We must always know that the kingdom cannot be fully inaugurated without Christ’s return, and even our very best attempts will be flawed before then. We must always stress the need to respond to Christ’s kingship to further bring the kingdom into the world.
We live in modernity, the source of all evil, according to some. I’m the sort of grumpy curmudgeon who thinks everything was better before the modern era, by which I mean the last 500 years.
This clearly isn’t true. Antibiotics, for one, are a gift we would not want to give up! What is true is that the current age had a particular set of challenges that are different to those of ages before ours; that the digital revolution in 2007 has changed the world in innumerable ways we have not even counted, let alone fathomed; and that there is something hostile to Christianity in our specific cultural moment.
Yet, if we look around at people’s desires and attempts to change the world we see that much of what people desire looks something like the kingdom of God.
Let me give you some examples:
After reading my post on acedia several friends sent me this New York Times piece on ‘languishing,’ which seems to be talking about essentially the same phenomenon. I rolled my eyes at the need to define a new term for something when there are rich resources in the great tradition for us to draw on, but what else did I expect? The nature of liberalism, and for now at least the NYT remains staunchly liberal, is to with dewy eyes reinvent the wheel. I get that there’s no gain when writing to a largely progressive audience to appeal to the great tradition, but it irks me.
(For the sake of clarity, I am using the term liberalism to mean liberalism, rather than to mean ‘left-wing’ as is probably more common in discourse).
It’s exactly the same approach that made everyone declare the Covid-19 pandemic ‘unprecedented’ until it became true by its repetition. Unprecedented in your lifetime, maybe.
The follow-up to that piece outlined ways to ‘flourish’ instead of ‘languish’. Broadly speaking they outlined the Sermon on the Mount.
At the same time the Guardian had this wonderful post-pandemic idea of inventing ‘lockdown days’. As numerous respondents on Twitter pointed out, they’d ‘invented’ humanity’s oldest law, the Sabbath.
There’s a reason we keep seeing things that look a little bit like the kingdom, and there’s a reason they don’t look as good.