I love this opening line to a section in David Naugle’s book, ‘Reordered Love, Reordered Lives’:
“Consciously or unconsciously, we have all made it the chief business of our lives to be saved.”
This is true. We’re all looking for “salvation” somewhere: in some thing, in some person, in some place, in some status, in some job, in some circumstance. We’re all looking for a way of escape from our current situation.
“From almost the time we are born until the moment we die, we have been on a quest to figure out how we might deliver ourselves from our unpleasant or miserable circumstances, and find some kind of purpose, peace, and lasting felicity to our lives. People are continuously looking for good news that makes life worthwhile. We need a gospel. We need salvation and we seek it every day, even if we don’t think of it as such. The central question and quest of our lives is this: ‘Where is hope and happiness to be found?'”
I’ve come to believe that that question truly is the question that motivates–or rather, haunts–all of mankind. We are on a never-ending quest to find an ever-elusive answer to that question:
“Where is hope and happiness to be found?”
It’s about time that we start answering this question that people are asking. The problem is that most people probably aren’t aware that this question is the central driving force of their decisions, their actions, and their choices.
More and more I’m convinced that a truly powerful witness is not going to come from eloquent explanations of doctrine or passion for a moral or civil cause. Those things are important, but not nearly as important as they were 200 years ago. In this cultural moment, the most powerful witness is going to come from those of us who have figured out the answer to this question and who live with what Edwin Friedman called a “non-anxious presence.” The central question of our lives is answered, our quest for hope and happiness is over, and we live in the calm that comes from that kind of assurance and rest. Maybe then people will actually ask that ancient question that I imagine 99% of us have never received: “What is the reason for the hope that you have?” (1 Peter 3:15).
There are many behaviors we engage in that sabotage this witness, though there is one that, given the year we find ourselves in, I feel needs addressed. Our outrage over and idolization of politics doesn’t send the message to the world that we have found true hope and happiness that transcends the political climate of our country. It gives the impression that those things are bound up in who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue rather than Who sits on the throne of Heaven and actually dictates and ordains these matters to His benevolent, wise, sovereign will. The level of our political outrage and obsession is an affront against the sovereignty, goodness, and wisdom of God and undermines our claims that our hope lies beyond the affairs of this world.
I’m not advocating for a political retreat or for Christians to be apathetic about these matters, as that would be an extreme pendulum swing that would result in foregoing our responsibility to be agents of change and restoration in the world. But what I am arguing for is a dialing down of the incense and anger, a recalibrating of our political attitudes from one of unhealthy fixation and mania to one more like Freidman’s “non-anxious presence”, and a reframing of the way we view and address our fellow image-bearers across the political aisle.
If we were serious about striving for these things, I believe we’d make headway in showing the world what it looks like to bear the easy, light, burden-free yoke of Jesus that is free from worry and anxiety and offense. Instead, we would be powerful witnesses that Jesus’ answer to that question, ‘Where is hope and happiness to be found?’, is true and right and good. That all of our searching and striving and restlessness is over once we find our rest in Him, and He has given us the peace and rest our souls long for.