Rather, we saw a single interconnected unit, living in a small, malleable, finely balanced and incredibly vulnerable environment. The need for wise, considered and united care of our fragile planet became a stark reality.
At the same time the world was rapidly changing in other ways. Technological advances, just dreams a few decades ago, became a normal reality. The speed and volume of global communications accelerated with rapid economic and cultural changes following. We are in awe of it all, yet experience growing social fragmentation with increasing levels of anxiety at the same time.
For all the positives of the internet and social media, there is a deepening distrust and fear. And it is not just towards institutions, but towards each other as well. Tribalism and intolerance are increasing. “Us-vs-them” mentalities across racial, religious, and ideological divides are increasing.
People lash out in frustration and fear. Does humanity have the corporate wisdom and ability to do what is necessary to sustain long term life on planet earth? We losing hope in our future – the future is not what it used to be!
Beyond the Horizon
Last year, the theme for Tasmanian Baptists was Beyond the Horizon. It recognised that we don’t know what the future looks like, particularly when it comes to culture and society, but that is not a reason for fear.
We reflected how this predicament and challenge is just like Abraham’s. The Bible tells us how in “faith Abraham… obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). He was a pioneer. He travel beyond the horizon into that which he could not see.
We are in a similar situation. Our world presents a future that we cannot see and God calls us into it.
However, even though the future is not clearly visible, it is not without hope. Abraham moved forward looking “to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God”. So, we too move forward full of expectation. We do not need to despair. We know the design and construction of the future of our world is in good hands. Not ours but God’s.
Our seemingly lonely, small and insignificant planet is not alone and insignificant. God loves this planet and everyone on it. We have not been left us to our own devices, God sent Jesus to teach us how to live. He demonstrate in his life how death is not the end of the future. What is more, although humanity does not have the wherewithal to secure the future, God has secured it through Jesus and his resurrection.
The 2019 theme for Tasmanian Baptists is Future Hope. It is a call to rise above despair and live a life full of hope. We can do this because we believe
God will not renege on the promise to care for this world. So, despite the cataclysmic predictions of the future of planet earth, Christians, of all people, are people of hope.
Its not Christians are exempt from dark times. We face them just like any other human. But, Jesus doesn’t make a difference. In our despair we “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Jesus, as a human , has travelled the difficult dark path we all walk. He knows what despair and disillusionment is all about. But he found a way through. So we follow him.
That doesn’t make it easy. We still have to walk, by faith, in difficult circumstances. However, we follow the faith life that or pioneer, Jesus, modelled for us. We learn from him how to hold onto hope even in the darkest moments.
As a result our churches are called to be communities of light in a world full of darkness and disillusionment. Our churches can be the havens of hope in a desperate world that people are looking for. The place where people find solace and connectedness and the courage to rise above their despair, fear and despondency.
The future isn’t quite what it used to be. Not at all, it is better. Because of his faithfulness, God raised Jesus to life. That’s what resurrection is all about. God promises the same for us. So we live each day with Future Hope.
Stephen L Baxter
This is a modification of an article that first appeared in Advance, the digital magazine of Tasmanian Baptists.