It’s not a hopeless quest.
Among other terms I enjoy, there’s the term ‘ideal’.
Whenever anyone starts a statement with the phrase ‘in the ideal world’, I buckle up and get ready for a lesson in the real world ain’t like we like it and we just have to lump it.
‘In the ideal world, we would all love each other and pray for one another, but we just have to accept that people are flawed and so that just won’t happen.’
‘In an ideal world, we would have loving marriages and caring families, but you have to get real and admit it’s tougher than ever to find a good spouse, so you just have to make do and prepare for disappointment.’
‘In an ideal world, we would have church that recognises there is more to life than happy-clappy, feelgood therapy sessions and get on with the Kingdom mission, but in the real world there’s just not enough people to get on with that, so you have to settle for what there is.’
It is very easy to swallow all of that and just get on with making do with the world that will never be ideal. In fact I have sometimes found that to be the easier option. Just fit in, blend in, accommodate and acclimatise. There are enough norms to observe and activities to keep you busy so you don’t have to worry too much about working towards actual change. That way all of that ideal talk can be left to dreamers who are out there in their fantasies while I can return to just coping with what’s going on in the real world.
Recently, however, I was reminded that Jesus lived to show that the ideal is not something abstract that can never be attained. He came in the flesh to prove that, in the words of a great Winans track, it’s good to know He’ll be there if ever I fall, but it’s better to know that I don’t have to fall at all. Not only that but what He calls for in expressing real Kingdom life is available by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a pipe dream, it is real and indeed more real than the facade we accept that’s just perpetuating death in religious garb.
Pockets of communities of grace prove that the ideal is attainable. It’s not about perfectionists, it is about having the vision outlined in Scripture ever before us and by faith doing our part to live that out in our every day (not every week) lives. We see Jesus, we focus on things above and over time we grow in knowing Him and seeing that reflected in ever more loving relationships and compassion for the society we live in.
Sure, episodes and an ongoing narrative gives the impression we’re fighting against the tide. Yet because of Christ we are establishing Kingdom reality through our love for Christ, minds renewed to see others as more important than ourselves and an awareness of a dark world in need of the light of God.
It’s not a hopeless quest.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden