Although Christians are called to voice redemption and hope in a fallen world, it is easy to be discouraged by what we see around us today. Employment is lower than we would like; pollution is higher than we would like. We want less crime and better education, lower debt and higher wages. All of these issues are legitimate concerns in our modern culture.
Still, the question is, how can we recognize the markers of progress and be agents of hope and change in a society that desperately needs both?
In the first part of this blog series, the current climate of negativity as well as God’s command for us to bring hope and flourishing to society will be discussed. Part two will highlight the hope we have to share with others and how societal flourishing has increased in the modern age. Part three will explore how societal flourishing is specifically linked to market trade and what our part is in the process. Finally, the series will conclude with an examination of how we can best use our gifts to show love for God and others.
A Culture of Negativity
The meta-narrative of scripture weaves our individual journeys together, explaining our mission as God’s redeemed people to bring about flourishing. We are called to be part of God’s redemptive process as salt and light and should always strive for a better world. However, we are often caught up in the negativity of the world in which we live. The five o’clock news is full of bad news about bad people doing bad things.
Don Henley penned a cynical song about this in the 1980s called “Dirty Laundry.” It starts off with this verse, “I make my living off the Evening News/ Just give me something-something I can use/ People love it when you lose/ They love dirty laundry.” For Henley, the situation just gets worse as the song progresses.
This overwhelming glorification of negativity has created a culture of fear. In a 2013 article, columnist Lenore Skenazy calls it “worst-first thinking—dreaming up the very worst-case scenario and acting as if it’s about to happen.” We close our doors to our neighbors in an effort to protect ourselves from the terror lurking around the corner. That terror takes many forms: fear of cancer, earthquakes, debt, divorce, crime, drugs, germs, accidents, and much more.
While these fears may be legitimate at certain times, they should never consume us. Focusing too much on fear causes us to miss the beauty of the world in which we live.
A Glimpse of Hope
As Christians, we must live by a different narrative. Life is difficult, even for those of us who live in the affluence of the twenty-first century Western world. Millions of people, however, face the daily struggle of mere survival—finding food, seeking shelter, and escaping oppression—and don’t have access to the vast abundance that modern markets bring. Markets play a powerful role in the Christian command to bring about flourishing.
Each and every one of us can help bring that flourishing to others. We can be a glimpse of hope for those living in darkness. We know that this fallen world is not the end because God’s kingdom is coming. With this in mind, we can work toward restoring the world and be a positive force for flourishing through market trade as we help bring light out of darkness.
In the next article, the discussion will continue as we take a closer look at the hope we have as Christians and how people around the world have benefitted from the modern achievements of market trade.