'...For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.' (Isaiah 11:9b)
'We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us...' (2 Corinthians 5:20a)
The world in general, and modern "progressive" western society in particular, has come to seriously and radically misunderstand the purposes of the Church and of the Christian Faith.
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) who first wrote about 'utopia', an ideal society existing on an island.
The truth is that Christians are representatives of, and for, a
coming utopia. What is a "utopia" ? My Cambridge
English Dictionary states,
'A place or state of ideal perfection.'
My Collins New English Dictionary states,
'Any real or imagined society, place or state considered to be perfect or ideal...'
The word 'Utopia' is credited to Sir Thomas More who wrote a 1516 book of that name about a perfect society existing on an imaginary island. In fact, men and women have been searching for a 'utopia,' or perfect society, for many thousands of years. It is the vision behind every political, philosophical and religious movement which this world has ever witnessed. H.D. Wendland has accurately written,
'This false faith in utopia springs out of the passionate longing in man, which nothing can stifle, for a new creation, a restoration of human nature. He can neither live nor think without the quest for completion and perfection. Would that man could understand this! For in his very faith in these utopias man bears witness against himself that he has sinned and fallen away from God.' (page 171, The Kingdom of God and History, H.D. Wendland, Chicago/New York: Willet, Clark and Co. 1935).
There is no doubt that men and women are
continually searching for perfection in this life. A new house, a
new garden, a new car, or a new interest or hobby can seem to be
the answer to all the longings and frustrations of life for us.
How often we all tell ourselves, 'Now I have found this, or
accomplished that, I can find true happiness and contentment,'
only to discover that the promise quickly faded. That new
accomplishment, discovery or acquisition was not the
answer to all the frustrations of life. That perfect joy and
contentment eluded us. In fact, it goes on eluding and deceiving
us again and again. Why is true joy, satisfaction and lasting
contentment never achievable in this life? C.S. Lewis had the
answer; it is because people were made in the image of God and
were actually designed for something far better than this fallen
world can ever offer. We were made to 'run on' a different
kind of fuel! This world only offers tantalising glimpses of what
would give us true and complete satisfaction. We grasp for joy
but it constantly slips away, because the joy our souls
ultimately seek can only be found in God and in the things of
eternity! One day - without doubt - every human being will
understand this; for the moment, though, this life is full of
unfulfilled promises and disappointments.
The mission of the Church is to bring that perfect and longed-for utopia just a step closer. Christians believe that the kingdom of God (already established within Christian lives), will one day expand from Heaven to embrace the entire earth ('Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven'), and that Jesus of Nazareth effectively provides the passport! That kingdom is 'not of this world' and it cannot be established by men and women right now but will eventually be divinely imposed.
In God's perfect timing, His kingdom will spread to cover all the earth.
'Then I saw a new heaven and new earth, for the first heaven and the first heaven had passed away, and there was no more sea.' (Rev. 21:1)
People in general today are hopelessly
confused about the true mission of the Church. One of those
public opinion surveys sampled public opinions about Christianity
and the Church a few years ago. Here are just a few of the
opinions and concepts which people held, which were revealed by the poll:
1. The church is about a philosopher called Jesus.
2. The church was once big and powerful but it is now dying out everywhere.
3. Christians persecute each other and are very 'narrow-minded.'
4. They hold meetings in crumbling old buildings.
In answer to the question, 'What role for Christianity in a scientific age?' people generally thought that this archaic instituition had very little further role in a modern world!
We may throw our hands up in despair at such misunderstandings (although, I think, we should not do so without first considering whether we ourselves actually contribute to such misunderstandings at times), yet such polls do show that while Joe and Joan Public are often curious about religion and about religious claims they generally do not see Christianity as having too many of the answers!
So here is an enigma: the Church, which appears archaic, out of touch and largely irrelevant in a post-Christian age of religious and cultural pluralism, actually has all the answers which mankind are so earnestly seeking in their utopian dreams! People have been taught the huge lie that science and money can lead into a future utopia and that mankind is continually and steadily progressing with such progress finally ushering in a wonderful golden age of accomplishment: the pinnacle of an evolutionary process which commenced hundreds of millions of years ago. But this is genuinely 'the big lie' - this places mankind upon the throne of all the universe - man becomes 'god.' Make no mistake: children are now being taught this big lie, in fact, it even started, in a somewhat small and uncertain way, in my own school days back in the 1950s!
Pol Pot too dreamed of a 'utopia' (an ideal
society) yet he murdered millions of innocent citizens of his own
country since he believed that an 'ideal society' in Cambodia
required the slaughtering of thousands of men women and children.
Pol Pot and his henchmen probably killed almost two million
Cambodians from April 1975 through December 1978 out of a
population of around seven million. This is unparalleled
So the knowledge of the entrance to true utopia, the keys of the kingdom, if you will, were within society's grasping distance in a former pro-Christian age but in a secular age that entrance has become wholly discredited from without (secularism and scientism) and from within (widespread infiltration of church congregations with "other messages" and false gospels).
'Man wants a utopia. In fact, he is incomplete without one. And the marrow of his being still continues to cry out to him that this is so. But man in sin does not want the only utopia which will ever be, the utopia of God. From this he already turned away in the garden of Eden. And when he turned away, he turned, not to another or a different utopia, but to destruction. From this condition, he needs to be rescued. From this delusion he needs to be disabused. God alone is able to perform this. And he will in Christ. Christ alone is the hope of the world and his kingdom alone is the true utopia....' (pages 221-222, 'Christ Triumphant', Raymond O. Zorn, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth. 1997).
One can imagine that a certain day will dawn when mankind will be shocked and amazed to learn that what they had considered to be a dry and dusty old message about a 'philosopher' called Jesus which had seemed so irrelevant to so many people, actually contained the seed of an imagination-defying new age. Assuredly not the new age promised by "human progress" or by "New Ageism" but a new age of genuine spiritual progress in which millions inherit a kingdom of God which had once seemed so inconceivable to so many thousands of "sophisticated" people. In that day, millions will stand in awe of the power of the 'big lie' and how persuasive it had been. But principally they will stand in awe of a Creator God who can no longer be doubted and who will no longer be prepared to 'wink' at mankind's days of ignorance.
Robin A. Brace, 2006.
UK APOLOGETICS HOME