There’s a strain in Christian spirituality that urges us not to overly involve ourselves with things of this life. The core of this advice is to keep our eyes and hearts focused on God who, presumably, is above daily concerns. The corollary of such concentration on God is the idea that life is passing while eternity is forever. The wise person, therefore, pays more attention to his eternal destiny than to concerns for the transient here and now.
A close look at the teaching and life of Jesus offers a different understanding. Certainly, Jesus encouraged his followers to be cautious about involving themselves in life as it is. The reason, however, wasn’t that life is of little importance. Rather, he taught, God is in the midst of transforming life. Instead of withdrawing from life, he encouraged his follower to immerse themselves as deeply as possible in the divine process of change. Invest yourselves in life’s future – in god’s future, not in life’s status quo, he instructed them.
The biggest danger to our lives and relationships with our Creator isn’t that we’ll commit some huge sin or horrendous crime. There’s always that possibility, of course; but the bigger danger is that we’ll simply choose to be realistic and practical about life while defining those two words in terms of our presumptions rather than God’s vision. The greatest danger isn’t an evil heart, it’s a heart dead to hope. More harm is done by averting our eyes from others’ needs than by cursing them.
Jesus had little patience with a that’s-just-how-things-are approach to living. Nothing about him gives a hint of a go-along-to-get-along attitude. Jesus loved his enemies and accepted that what he wanted wasn’t always what would happen. But he knows where he was going and he never wavered from the path that led to that future. He never ignored our present reality or sought another one as an escape. He lived to transform this world.