Another blogger recently put to me the following question:
In your book, you call some Christians ‘secret utopians.’ How is that contrary to what Christ promoted and how can our prayers reveal that aspect of our lives?
Christians ought to be utopians in one sense. We believe that Jesus is ruling at the right hand of the Father and it is only a matter of time before his kingdom becomes fully manifested on planet earth. This hope animates us, or should, in all that we do in our public discipleship. What I mean by the term ‘secret utopian’ is something different. The secret utopian is the person who thinks that we can ourselves bring in God’s good society by our own efforts and strategies and is therefore driven to make it happen and fearful when the ‘bad guys’ seem to be getting their way. This sort of utopianism can show up in bitter and impatient praying—“God, get rid of that Senator!” It can show up in the failure ever to thank God for one’s leaders or to pray humbly for them, understanding how very difficult it is to govern given all the frustrations and temptations of office. It can show up as well in triumphalistic praying: “Oh God, thank you that your man is in the White House!” The praying of the proper sort of utopian (the one I mentioned first) will be earnest, grief-stricken, humble, and hopeful: earnest because we know that no human being or group of human beings can solve our nation’s deepest problems, grief-stricken because this is our country and we are responsible for what is wrong with her, humble because we ourselves can only guess at what the best solutions are, and hopeful because we know our Father hears us, his triumphed in Jesus, and will in the end put everything right.