For much of my life I have idolized progress. I lived asking myself if every moment were taking me somewhere. I have recently surrendered all belief in the idea of progress! I have slowly lost my grip on the notion over loads and loads and loads of laundry. This task takes me no where, yet we still must do it! I mean seriously, if progress were true, then surely someone somewhere would have figured out a way for these clothes to fold themselves and get into my children’s dressers! I get so frustrated sometimes (ok, more often than sometimes) when doing the daily tasks that all will have to be done again, most of them even before the day is through! Fold the laundry, do the dishes, and oh my goodness, how many times a day do you people want me to feed you! Someone has to do all of these things. They won’t just magically take care of themselves. Maintaining life, mine and three little ones, takes so much time! It is the majority of my life. I spend most of my waking hours just working to keep myself and others alive. It can all seem so futile.
My husband goes to work 40+ hours a week to bring home money so we can live. But why do we live? So we can go to work? To make money? That we just spend on keeping ourselves alive? He is a techy. He works in IT for a University. So, his job is to make sure technology works so that these young bright kids can get a degree and make a living. So that they too can get a job, work, make money, which we all need just to stay alive. He works, keeping this system of futility running. Just like I raise our children, so that they can become functioning adults, who will make more children, and also work, make money and just stay alive. Surely there is more…
None of these struggles are new. Just look back at the Old Testament, there is Ecclesiastes for one. “Meaningless, meaningless, it is all a chasing after the wind.” Or take the law for example. Go back and read Leviticus, see how much of it is taken up with maintaining life! There are so many legislations about cleanliness. I mean a significant portion of chapters 13 and 14 are about cleaning up mildew. Why? Because “cleanliness is next to godliness”? No, although it could appear that way. It’s because God wanted his people to live an abundant (and healthy) life, and he had to teach them how to do that. He was looking out for their lives.
But why? It all ends anyways right?
The ‘why’ today is the same it was in the days of Moses as well as Adam.
To give God glory. The fall did not change the chief end of man! Ever since that fatal fruity bite, we have changed our aim to gaining re-entry to the garden. We want to recreate a Garden of Eden here on earth, in this time. We strive to eliminate pain, free up more time, we fight off death as if immortality were still an option. Ironically, we are all more anxious than ever, and in the end, we are just more busy. Busy, making progress. We make sure our kids get enough exposure to the arts and sports. Gotta make sure they stay ahead of the game. We are so busy, we come to the end of our lives faster than ever. And our lives. still. end.
The chief end of man always has been and always will be the same:
“To glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” (Westminster Catechism). So, why was God interested in the ways His people lived their daily lives? His laws were meant to be protection, life-giving ways to live. If you live in too much filth, you get diseases and are sick. He gave these to His people out of love for them. He doesn’t want to see His creation suffer. But ultimately, He cares about how we live because how we live is how He gets glory!
As humans often do, we have made the means the end. We have made abundant healthy living our chief end. However, progress is not the chief end of man. Progress is a seduction of the Industrial Revolution. We can make it sound so good in the church. We want to transform the world, make it a better place. Making this world a better place is not the goal of the church. Yes, Jesus calls us to take care of the widows and orphans, but the point was not so that their lives on earth would be less bitter or even to bring justice to earth. The point was that when we do this, we do it as unto Jesus!
Church, let us lift up the Son, bring glory to the Father, in this way, make disciples. This is our purpose Church! Let us not get our aims mixed up!
Progress is an idea I have been thinking a lot about lately. I hope to spend the week writing some of my thoughts. I would enjoy your feedback.