the futility of pursuing paradise in this present life

This post will easily be misunderstood if it is thought to mean that every effort shouldn’t be made to help the poor across the world to a sustainable life, or help the poor to get on their feet in this country. Of course we want to see policies in place which help the poor, nor do I think that such efforts are futile.

What I’m getting at in this post is the notion of achieving a more than less ideal existence in this life, the ideal possibly being good health and plenty of wealth in a well ordered society, and here comes the key point: free of trouble. Trouble is endemic to this life and of course it takes multiple forms. It seems that this life is not meant to be free from trouble, not the least of which is the aging process, which while it may include good health (but usually with some challenges along the way in regard to that), inevitably ends in death. There’s no escape from death in this life, as we all know, even if our culture helps us avoid that thought in large part.

Part of the problem in pursuing the best possible life in this present existence is the fact that not everyone will agree just what that life should be. A simple example: many people think there’s nothing better than a fire pit where wood can be burned in a nice family or friendly gathering. While there’s the science, not necessarily real hard and established well yet, which insists that the smoke from wood fire especially from wood insufficiently dried out of the sap and substances in it, is quite toxic to humans, especially those who may suffer from chronic conditions (like asthma) already, as well as a danger to the healthy in the long term. That is just one of many more examples.

But the fact of the matter is, simply by living in this world, even natural causes like underground radon, present everywhere, but especially strong in some areas could contribute to our death. And we live in an existence in which evil is present due to the choices or lack thereof of people. So that much harm can take place. The latter is especially something society needs to focus on without neglecting the former. In fact the former can impact the latter such as the problem of climate change due to the greenhouse gases the human enterprise has spewed into the air since the beginning of the industrial age.

There can be no such thing as a trouble free existence in this life, free from all toxins and all dangers. Not that we shouldn’t do our best to mitigate such things. But as followers of Jesus, we should do our best to lay down our lives for Jesus and the gospel. And in terms of the gospel, seeing God’s saving message in King Jesus and God’s grace and kingdom come to him make its way to the poor as well as to the rich and to everyone else. And to see something of the promise of that gospel, that good news begin to be fulfilled, yes, even in this present life. While at the same time we realize that the perfection for which we hope will not come until our Lord returns. So that we’ll always be praying the prayer the Lord taught us which includes the petition: “Deliver us from evil.”

And so our hope is not for some idyllic paradise in the here and now, although we want to see society moved more and more in that direction. But knowing that sin and death in this life will inevitably undermine and to some extent overthrow such good attempts. So that the salvation we await is in our Savior, the Lord Jesus, a salvation not only for us, but for the entire world.