“The future is widely misunderstood.”
- Ray Kurzweil
I recently viewed the documentary Transcendent Man which examines the ideas of Ray Kurzweil and started reading his most recent book titled, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Some consider Ray a modern prophet regarding technology, its exponential growth and the place of humanity in it. While some view him as overly optimistic and others see his ideas as inevitable. One thing is certain, he attempting to take the long view of technology and humanity.
His ideas do have certain implications for religion and the search for meaning in the universe. Christianity is no exception even though I see Christianity as a life of faith as opposed to something I can do to obtain God’s good graces. Religion as man’s attempt to reach God may find its epitome in the ideas of Kurzweil. Again, this might be overly optimistic. Since Kurzweil is looking into the future as well, he could be wrong but many of his predictions have been correct so far….
The church and Christians need to take into account the long view of human history. We are often and maybe far too often, seeing the Lord’s return at any given moment or even with the approach of particular dates. This apocalyptic and millennial zeal usually has done more harm than good. Granted the apostle Paul had a sense of expectancy, his work was guided by an eye that would build to last. Even recent books like The Great Emergence by Phyllis Tickle takes into account a larger view of Christianity than many are accustomed. While she mentions the 500 year rummage sale in the church and the present changes taking place, the challenge is what will the next 1000 years of Christianity look like? So what must churches do to take into account the long view? Here are a few areas to consider:
Creation – With the view of humanity as created by God and in His likeness, we must take the stewardship of all creation into account. We need to bring healing to the earth as Christ has brought healing to humanity. In addition, the church should embrace and encourage the God given creativity in each saint in the Body of Christ. The guidance the church needs is that of artistic vision not the rehashing of present leadership skills.
Community – With the view of the church as the community of Jesus Christ, we must seek the common unity found in Jesus Christ alone. Doctrines, dogmas and denominations divide far too often and true unity is already present in the church if we look past the works of men to the work of God in Christ.
Civility – While many seek a form of unity too often the disagreements over doctrine devolves into petty name calling and at worst cries of heresy. We need to learn how to disagree in better ways without demonizing the other. If the person you disagree with (or for whatever reason just dislike) can say, “Jesus is Lord!” they are your brother/sister in Christ. So be careful in speaking ill of a fellow saint, they too are part of the Body of Christ.
Cooperation – If we take seriously the civility within the Body of Christ, we can then work together in serving all of humanity, bringing healing, justice, peace, reconciliation and wholeness. While we may not bring theKingdom ofGod in its fullness, we can participate in that future Kingdom and bring the blessings back to minister healing to the nations.
An expression of the Body of Christ that is slowly growing up can make these steps. The future of the bride is glorious because that future is the fullness of Christ. The long view is important for Christianity in history, the longer view toward eternity is our hope for the redemption of all creation. Whether Christ returns in 5 years or 5000, we can participate in the coming Kingdom. How that will be expressed in the church is as wide open as the future we are graced with.