Dealing with dystopia

The year’s at the spring

And day’s at the morn;

Morning’s at seven;

The hill-side’s dew-pearled;

The lark’s on the wing;

The snail’s on the thorn:

God’s in his heaven—

All’s right with the world!

       – Robert Browning

Someone described America in the paper today as a dystopia and I had to look it up. I figured it was something like a dysfunctional utopia and I wasn’t far off. “An imagined place or state where everything is unpleasant or bad.” With everything that’s going on right now, a case could be made for this, except for the fact that God has not abandoned us.

Nor has the end come yet. It may seem closer than ever before, but it’s not here. Still, I’m surprised at how little mention there is of the end times these days. The spiritual revolution of the 1970s was accompanied by a strong conviction that the end was near. Hal Lindsey published The Late Great Planet Earth, Larry Norman sang “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and just about every other singer or Christian rock group — even Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Creedence Clearwater — had at least one song about the Lord coming back. With things the way they are, I would have expected a similar focus these days, but nothing doing. It almost seems like an archaic concept.

I have a theory about that. I’ve wondering if the reason we haven’t been hearing much about the end times might be because Christians are so focused on political change that they think they can arrest the dystopia by voting in the right people. So we’re focused more on the here and now than the hereafter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the scriptures do tell us to wait and watch. Jesus told us to watch for the signs like a farmer reads the sky at sunset. And just about all the writers in the New Testament actually believed they would see the return of the Lord in their lifetime. So looking for the return of Christ is a part of the reality of believers in every age. Bring it on, I say.

But as well as watching, we have a life to attend to now, and that’s where the English poet Robert Browning comes in. His well-known verse about God in His heaven is a comforting one from the standpoint that the wheels haven’t come off the wagon just yet. This may seem like a dystopia we are living in, but still there is dew on the hillside, there are birds in the air and snails in your garden and these facts should tell us that everything’s as it should be. God is still in His heaven and that reminds us that He is in charge.

But don’t stop waiting and watching. John says that the hope of Christ’s return is something that purifies us (1 John 3:3). So God’s in control, and when things can’t get much worse, Christ will return. So be on guard and look for that great day.


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6 Responses to Dealing with dystopia

  1. greg Kejci says:

    The White Horse iS coming!!

  2. Lois Shirk says:

    Reminds me of Habakkuk 3:17-18 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”
    Good advice as we “watch and wait.”

  3. With the very last line in Mr. Browning’s poem in mind, I have a rhetorical question for any who would like to respond…

    I’m going to challenge you, Mr. Fischer, to look beyond the borders of North America and try to see (and write) a more global view of things through God’s perspective.
    Most of your Catches are focused on the happenings, emotions, and reactions within the good ol’ US of A and, given our current climate, it would be understandable if one assumed that we’re fidgeting inside that proverbial handbasket headed for Hell.
    Are things as bad as they can get? No, definitely not.
    Will things get worse? Possibly.
    Can things improve? Certainly.

    However, consider the travails of the many other souls around our globe, our entire planet – those living, suffering, and dying within the regimes and enclaves of true societal dystopias – and we soon realize that most Americans have no idea of what it means to really live in fear under constant threat of brutality; no concept of gut-wrenching physical and mental agony; no clue as to what it means to exercise pure faith and trust in our Sovereign God; no true understanding of deep sacrifice; no solid plan to prepare ourselves for when the shit hits the fan (except hoard toilet paper!); no actual preparedness for the worse (and evil) times ahead as predicted by social-media, propagandized by fear-mongers, and/or prophesied in Scripture (regardless of your Rapture beliefs).
    We Americans whine while others – brothers and sisters mind you – die.

    Oftentimes, it’s good to look at things from a distance instead of noticing all the details inside our national borders and preferred boundaries.

    So, with that in mind, why should God look down from Heaven and listen to our sniveling requests in prayer for the either the restoration or increase of our self-entitled rights, comforts, luxuries, political preferences, and yearnings for the “good old days?”
    Why should He care to deliver us from the insults, injustices, and inhumanities that we’ve adopted and incorporated into our everyday lives as we turn blind eyes and deaf ears toward anyone who doesn’t look like us, who doesn’t think like us, and who are unable to return the favor, the kindness, the attention?
    What brought us to the conclusion that the United States was under a unique special blessing of God as we continue to learn more about the real history and sins of our revered forefathers?
    How is it that we should expect God’s blessings and not His wrath?

    As bad as we – Christians in particular – messed things up, why should God treat us any more favorably than we’ve treated anyone else for these last 400 years, particularly these last 60 years when the Jesus movement came to the forefront of Western conscientiousness?
    We heard the call, we followed the Leader, we were entrusted with his Word, we went into the world and we… with some exceptions (just like the kings of Judah and Israel), devolved quickly and became corrupt, conceited, self-serving, and unconcerned about our lukewarm influence and its ultimate negative impact on the world around us and/or subsequent generations.
    Our Christian leaders, artists, and business-people embraced the ways of the world to “build up the Church” and quickly realized there was money to made, fame to be gained, politicians to influence, adultery to engage in, others to sleep with, theme-parks to build, focus-groups to target, trinkets to be sold, a prosperity gospel to be preached, and a prosperous lifestyle to be had – all through government-allowable tax-deductible donations. God Bless the USA!!!
    We lapsed into the former ways of those inheritors of the great revivals that preceded us.
    Whether we were lulled, duped, or followed some business model we sputtered and lost our way. But, even still, our pride beckoned others to follow us even though we couldn’t see so clearly any longer – never admit defeat (or struggle or pain or doubt)!
    Many muddled along with us. Many left disillusioned and sought similar feelings of acceptance, joy, and freedom in cults, through drugs, by rebellion, from science, in atheism, and religion. Many felt betrayed. Many gave up. And many simply died never reliving or reviving that “conversion Peace” they once experienced and held dear in the memory of their hearts.
    So many lives misled, trivialized, damaged, doubting, and empty.
    And today is where we’re at.
    (Isn’t it ironic, sad, and mystifying to see the adult children of our recently-deceased evangelists behaving similarly to the children of Israel’s prophets and judges: Eli, Samuel, and others?).

    Now, here we are pointing fingers, wringing our hands, and making accusations but never really learning from our past as to why and how we arrived at our present-day self-described “dystopia.”
    And even if we learned, would we actually implement changes?
    We dropped the ball here in America but we’ve all heard about the tremendous inroads God has made through his faithful servants in other – sometimes hostile – parts of the world (even in the United States!).

    Can we still be redeemed or is our light about to be extinguished?

    After listening to our prayers for His intercession into our government and to mend the society that “We The People” ourselves created, will we hear Jesus speaking to us as He did to His own mom – “…that’s not our problem My time has not yet come.” (NLT)

    God’s in his heaven—
    And regardless of what happens in the United States of America…
    All is right with HIS world!

  4. John A Fagliano says:

    Now, to respond to John Fischer:
    If anything should be archaic by now, it’s the idea that “voting in the right people” could save us from our dystopia. I would think everyone on both sides of the fence would know better.

    Those of us old enough to remember know that in the 70’s and also in the 80’s there was a belief that Jesus would return before the decade was over. I remember the man who gave 88 reasons why it would be in ’88. It’s hard to believe that was 32 years ago! So having been wrong before, us older folks have grown quiet about the second coming because we don’t want to mislead the younger generations into thinking that they won’t live to get old and grey. I admit I used to believe that about myself.

    In 1950 it would have been easy for a Christian who had studied end-time prophecy to believe things were coming together really quickly. The rise of Hitler, the persecution of Jews, the advent of nuclear weapons, Israel being recognized as a nation again in 1948, and the cold war were all signs of the times. Let’s say someone in 1950 said the second coming is soon but it wouldn’t happen for another 120 years. That’s still very soon compared to the 1900 plus years there had already been. So if the second coming isn’t for another 50 or 100 years we can still say it’s soon and fix our hope on that. All the Kingdoms of this world including China, Russia and the USA will one day be replaced by the Kingdom of Christ. Now there’s your right leader!

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