Yesterday, I got into a discussion with a friend. She is very pro-social movement, and I say that because it seems she's on board with a lot of groups, all fighting for various different "human rights," as the groups like to call them. I won't get into that; that's politics and in this case, the politics don't matter.
But as we got around to it, I laid the question on the line: To what end, I asked her. To what end are you fighting for all of these things? I laughed. The theology in me loved her answer.
"It makes this world a hell of a better place to live."
It's okay if you're chuckling right now; I did. I still sort of am. Because isn't that the problem? Isn't that kind of the big flaw with living in a place like this? We spend our lives trying to make this a better place to live, but by our very actions, we're painting ourselves into a hell we could hardly get out of. It's quite literally becoming a hell of a better place.
A better place where people earn more money and are better able to provide for themselves and their families. But at what price? Man is still bound by money, no matter how much money he has. And he's working himself in prolonged or sometimes unsafe situations to get it, sacrificing many other things in the pursuit of the almighty dollar. Which, yes, makes life better but only by a certain measure. By many others, it makes life hell.
A better place where people are free to do as they please, even when it's questionable to others what a person might choose to do. It seems like a noble idea on the surface. After all, most of us feel reasonably free to do as we please. Then again, most of us are fairly reasonable to begin with and wouldn't imagine doing much in the way of controversy. But when we expand the idea of a man's freedom, we inevitably run into those with mischief or malady on their mind and there's nothing we can do about it. We make it a better place in that man is free, but it is hell because we cannot say anything to a man whose freedom conflicts with our good taste. It's anarchy. It's hell.
The list could go on, but those are kind of the general idea. The problem with social movements, as I see it, is that they aren't about expanding the line; they're about eliminating it. My friend even told me that the only acceptable outcome is total buy-in, that if one man refuses to believe the end game of the movement, it is a failure. We'll never get there. We're never going to get to a place where everyone agrees on everything. There's nothing in the world that everyone agrees on right now, not even things like puppies, kittens, doughnuts, or bacon. (I know!) Yet the goal is to remove the lines and create a free-for-all. And as long as any line exists, this could still be a "better place."
It's the way we live, but I have to disagree. It's what the world tells us, but what does this world know? There is a line. There is a separation. There is a way to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, freedom and love, peace and war, promise and purgatory. There has to be a way or God would not have told us to choose this one over that. He would not have sent us in search of the narrow way if there were really no way at all, if it didn't matter.
God calls us to do good in this world, and Lord help me, I try. You probably try. We live, we love, we long for the Lord. We share. We serve. We speak truth. We do the kinds of good things that we have to believe matter in a place like this, and yet we are all subject to this very temptation - to do this world according to this world and try to sneak God in. We're working so hard on surviving, on making it to Heaven, that we forget to make a little Heaven in this place.
And what happens is we end up with exactly what my friend was hoping for - a hell of a better place to live. If we're not careful, we might start to think that maybe that's enough.