What does the future hold? Many people believe that the human race will eventually create “heaven on earth”—that our wisdom and scientific discovers will solve the problems of poverty, war, disease, and the like. On the other hand, many Christians believe that “it’s all gonna burn”—that the world will be consumed in fire, completely destroyed to make room for a brand new heaven and earth.
Both these views have concerns. Humanism presents a glowing future, but ignores greed, envy, and other sin issues. And the belief that the world will be destroyed and replaced eliminates our motivation to steward our resources, and to make things better here and now.
Then there’s Skye Jethani’s latest book, Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow. He reminds us that there’s a third alternative, fully supported by numerous Scripture references. He believes that, just as Jesus’ body was resurrected, not remade, and just as we are redeemed, not replaced, so will the world be resurrected, redeemed, and renewed. The bad will pass away, but what good we do here now will continue on into eternity.
I love how Jethani challenged my assumptions, forcing me to really think about God’s purposes for his church in this present age. As the title implies, his premise is that our view of the future influences what we do now.
I had some mental images, taken from Revelation, of dead plants and animals, burning forests, and cowering people, but I’d never really studied this part of the Bible. I thought “new” meant, well, brand new. Jethani points out that there are two words translated as new. One word does mean “brand new”—made from scratch—while the other word is better translated as “renewed”—not something that didn’t already exist, but rather something that has been reworked—sort of a “new and improved” version. Guess which word the Bible uses for the new earth?
After establishing what the future will bring, Jethani goes on to write about how our understanding of where we’re headed determines our purpose here and now. The second half of the book is focused on the idea of vocation—the task to which God has called us as individuals. We are all called into a personal relationship with God. We are all called to sanctification, as outlined in Scripture. And we are each called to a specific role that God has prepared especially for us—our vocation.
The book points out that the church has largely lost the concept of vocation. Rather, we believe that “professional Christians”—pastors, missionaries, evangelists, parachurch workers—are more important to God than the rest of us—homemakers, contractors, engineers, etc. But this view isn’t Biblical. God has placed each of us in a position to usher in the Kingdom of God. What we do for Him, whether it’s changing diapers, designing cars, scrubbing floors or composing symphonies, can all have eternal value.
Probably the most significant chapter for me was the one on beauty. As a photographer, I’ve wondered from time to time if my work has any value to God’s kingdom. Yet, God has clearly encouraged me in this direction. Reading Futureville put all my doubts to rest, affirming me in my pursuit of beauty.
At the beginning of this month I reviewed Jethani’s previous book, With: Reimagining the Way You Relate to God. At the end of that post, I wrote that I had just started reading Futureville, and that I fully expected to be posting my review of it when I finished. Well, I was right—Jethani has done it again. This is another book very much worth reading.