Is the world going to hell?
There is a sentiment that is prevalent among Christians–especially the conservative ones (which many people would call me). I saw it today on Facebook in response to a post about the legality of marijuana.
“The world is changing, and most of it is for the worst.”
In some Christian circles it is a pastime to look at the world through “the-world-is-going-to-hell” glasses. There is a longing for the “good-‘ol-days” when everyone was Christian and we weren’t so morally corrupt–when the United States was a Christian nation and we respected God the way we should. Is it true?
This perspective is most often expressed in the direction of traditional moral issues–sexuality, substance use/abuse, church attendance, abortion, and the themes of movies and television. I don’t deny that our current cultural location leaves some things to be desired in the realm of traditional morality.
The other place this perspective pops up is in relation to the perceived “liberalization” of America. It’s when prayer is removed from schools, universities dogmatize naturalism (not the good of science, but the assumption that God MUST not exist), and people try to take guns away (yes, that’s cheeky).
This perceived jettisoning of morality and slide into liberalism is cited as sure evidence that the world is sliding down the greasy slope to oblivion. Is it?
I don’t know, here’s some of the things I see when I look around. There is an uprising pushing us to take racism seriously (and we certainly already see improvement in the effects of racism since the first half of this century). Women are more respected and have greater opportunity than they have in the past. Extreme poverty is decreasing dramatically around the globe. Bullying and discrimination are increasingly stigmatized and not tolerated. Churches are looking outside themselves at how they can work for the good of their neighborhoods and the world. Efforts to care for the physical aspects of our planet continue to be explored and acted upon. There is movement to pursue business in ways that include profit but do not see profit as the only end. Is there more work to be done? Of course! But we can point to places of improvement.
In short, there are many things that look more and more like the kingdom of God. There are also things that look less and less like it. It looks to me like we live in a time where good and evil grow up together. The world isn’t going to hell. It also isn’t on the verge of utopia. It is growing and groaning in anticipation of it’s renewal.
I hope for those who claim to follow Jesus, we will live in hope–working faithfully for the good and flourishing of the world–working against darkness and pursuing light. There is so much good to be done, and believing the world is going to hell will keep us from it. Let’s live joyfully and hopefully for the life of the world God loves and in which he’s at work.