If you get to know me, you will find I am a bit of a science fiction fan.
In 1966 Gene Roddenberry envisioned a bright future for mankind when he created “Star Trek.” In 1977 George Lucas told of an epic battle between good and evil with “Star Wars.” But over the years, and especially at this present time, the themes of science fiction have shifted. Much of popular science fiction media today depicts a dystopian future where the characters must survive in a post-apocalyptic setting. Such popular properties as “The Walking Dead” imagine such a future. In such stories the lines between good and evil are often not so black and white. Even the latest iterations of Star Trek largely do away with the property’s original optimism in favor of a darker depiction of the future.
Why is there such a shift in how we imagine the future? Partly the shift must be due to the fact that a more pessimistic view and darker settings lead to more conflict-laden, exciting stories. However, there may be another reason behind the shift. We look at the political conflict, civil unrest, and natural disasters of our world and it becomes more and more difficult for us to imagine a brighter, better future for mankind.
Of course we desire to live in a better, safer world, and we should strive in our vocations to make the world a better place. Properties like “Star Trek” begin with the assumption that man can and will one day, by his own power, overcome all his shortcomings and improve himself beyond violence and conflict. But the Bible teaches that no one is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10), and in our own experience we see things go from bad to worse.
No, we cannot put our hope in a better world, some future utopia. Hope placed in government, in politics, in a more stable environment, will always eventually disappoint. We need a different hope, a hope beyond any human capacity of goodness. We need a sure and certain hope, a hope that will not disappoint us.
We can place our complete hope in Jesus Christ. Hope is not something like a wish. Maybe it will come true. No, hope is a certainty. We derive hope from trust in something, or someone, completely trustworthy. God never lies and we can always trust him to fulfill His promises. God has fulfilled his promises in Jesus. Jesus died for the whole world because the whole world needs what he has to give: forgiveness, life and salvation. And while we still live in this fallen world our suffering is not in vain because God has transformed our suffering.
The Bible tells us, “Tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:3-6, NASB).
At the end of our perseverance God has promised that, through Jesus, He will bring about a new, restored world with no more sin or suffering. We can put our hope in the future that God has promised.
Rev. McNally is the pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Germantown and a member congregation of the American Association of Lutheran Churches. To contact him, email email@example.com.