Watching people’s passionate involvement in the intense politics of the past month or so has been an interesting phenomenon. We literally had millions of people working in one way or another to get their candidates elected, and last night we watched as euphoria erupted over an election of historic proportions.
It left me wondering: Why doesn’t the church drum up this much excitement and passion? My preliminary guess is that politics offers the kind of eschatology that should be offered in the church.
With each major election people talk and think about change. New possibilites begin to form in imaginations. “What if…” questions are asked and dreamed about. Nothing is outside the realm of impossibility. We make our stake for what we think the future should like like. Changing the future is an exciting proposition.
In the church we talk about the past, about Jesus’s death and resurrection so that we might receive the forgiveness of sins. And we talk about the future that awaits us after our own death and resurrection. But we don’t often talk about the role of the church in between the two, other than the mandate for personal morality.
This is unfortunate because the church has a purpose other than as an incubator of souls for heaven. The church is God’s change agent. The church’s mission is found in the proclamation of the gospel, a proclamation that frees captives, heals the sick, and opens blind eyes. Talk about new possibilities! The church is the place where imagining a new future should be a perpetual practice, not just every four years. The church should be about the business of changing the future, not just preparing people for it. We participate in bringing about God’s kingdom on earth, changing old to new, and seeing life where there once was death.
The passion that excites the public every four years in our politics is an eschatological passion. And eschatology is the realm of Jesus and His church, not politics and the state. May we learn how to live in that realm.