In a perfect world…fill in the blank. It’s no secret that our world is far from perfect. When I read stories of little girls and duct tape or hear of another child shot in gang crossfire, I ache for a world in which things like that simply do not happen. But what, exactly would such a perfect world look like?
Winners and losers in a perfect world?
No doubt we all agree that violence, wars, disease, corruption and poverty have no place in a perfect world. Beyond the absence such egregious evil, however, our visions of perfection may differ. What kind of economy would exist in a perfect world? For some, the obvious answer is capitalism; for others socialism. Would there be wealthy and not-so-wealthy people in a perfect world? (See previous question.) Would there be winners and losers? (Will the Cubs be losers even in a perfect world? Say it ain’t so!) Seriously, in a perfect world would we enjoy competitive sports in which someone must lose? Would a perfect world be conflict-free? Perhaps we each think of a perfect world as one in which everyone agrees with…me!
These questions occured to me as I read the book Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James. In a discussion of Genesis 1-2, she asked some provocative questions. Was there any conflict in the perfect Garden of Eden (before the fall)? Can our lives tell an interesting story without conflict? “Is heaven plotless?” (p. 67) This was actually a tangential point of Custis James’ book, the primary message being that men and women were created as joint image-bearers of God, and that we should work together to rule and subdue this imperfect earth.
Conflict is not incompatible with perfection
Imagine Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the only two people to ever inhabit a perfect world. Maybe Eve thought they should plant geraniums on the side of the house, but Adam preferred tomatoes. Conflict. Two different people will naturally see the world and its possibilities differently, but conflict is not incompatible with perfection. Adam and Eve, in a perfect world, would have used their disagreements to listen to and learn from each other.
Custis James writes, “Conflict will always be the story…(it) brings out the leader in us, transforms our lives from the mundane to the cosmic, and by God’s grace forges us into more compassionate, selfless leaders. Conflict in our stories isn’t in the way, it is the way…” (p. 96-97).
What is your vision of a perfect world? Do you think there will be conflict in heaven? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
The hope of a perfect world
One day God will recreate the heavens and the earth in a new and perfect state. In it we will live and work and enjoy God and his creation. I can’t imagine what that will be like, but I look forward to finding out.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with the and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Rev. 21:3-4