If you could design the ideal world and the ideal society, what would it look like? Let me take a stab at it.
First, there would be Enough. There would be Enough for everyone. Enough food, first of all. There wouldn’t be starving children anywhere in the world, certainly not while others eat their fill plus some, and then throw away Enough leftovers to feed a child for a couple of days. There would be Enough housing. No one would live in cardboard boxes or leaky shacks cobbled together from pieces of plywood and drywall scavenged from the building sites of enormous mansions. There would be Enough clothing that everyone would be cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and no one would be embarrassed by the poor condition of their only shirt. There would just simply be Enough of the things that people need to live. Those that have wouldn’t worry about More. More food, More rooms in our houses, More clothes, More stuff. We wouldn’t concern ourselves about More. We’d concern ourselves with Enough, and realize that until everyone has Enough, our More is their Enough.
There would be Peace. That means first of all that we would stop killing each other, either in the drug wars of the city or the “love” wars of domestic violence (spouse abuse, child abuse, revenge for infidelity) or the oil wars of developed countries or the religious wars of the Middle East or the border wars over territory in much of the world. But as Jesus pointed out, you don't have to murder someone to be violent against them. Anger in itself is often expressed violently if non-physically. (Ever been on the receiving end of a person’s angry harangue? Then you know that there is a physical effect—you feel the violation.) A marriage can be void of abuse but also void of closeness and intimacy. A child that is ignored by their parents is being scarred significantly, and finds little comfort that at least they are not being beaten. True Peace is not the absence of violence but the presence of love. It produces a feeling that each moment of now is right and true and holy.
There would be a bounty of Grace and Forgiveness. And both would be needed, because in my ideal world people would be freed from the tyranny of Perfection. Can you imagine going through school knowing that you would be punished if you didn’t get a 100 on every homework assignment, every quiz, every test? That your parents would not only be angry with you but would kick you out of the family until you somehow made it up? Yet somehow we have constructed a view of God that has him treating his children the same way. Only God is Perfect, and I don’t believe that he expects Perfection from any of us, not in the sense of flawlessness. The biblical concept of perfection isn’t about flawlessness, it’s about being a complete person, a whole person, having everything that is essential to being a child of God. So we wouldn’t have to get a 100 on every action, in every thought, every word. Which means that we would cut each other a lot of slack. We’d give each other a lot of Grace, and when true offense occurred we’d so value the Peace that we have in our relationship that we would fight for Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Just as God did and does. Think I’m overly idealistic? Well, don’t blame me, because this really isn’t my dream. It’s Jesus’. I took it straight from the Lord’s prayer:
Enough: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Enough: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Peace: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.”
Grace and Forgiveness: “And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God includes all three of these and more. What gets me is how easily people, including Christians, dismiss these things as unrealistic in the real world. “Sure, it would be great if everyone had Enough food, but it’s unrealistic. It’s unrealistic to think that we won’t resort to any kind of violence to settle our differences. It’s unrealistic to think that in the real world when people are offended that they wouldn’t seek punishment and even revenge but rather would offer Grace and seek Forgiveness. The real world doesn’t work like that. It’s unrealistic.”
But this is Jesus’ vision, which means it is God’s vision. So I have to ask: This is unrealistic for whom? Of course it’s unrealistic for humans to do. We’re addicted to More, addicted to Non-Peace, addicted to Punishment. We’re too scared to try another way.
But this is God’s dream, and it’s Unrealistic to think that, in the end, he won’t get his way.