Did Tuesday’s Spring statement by the Chancellor leave you feeling pumped up? Me neither.
Of course, economic forecasts are important, but there can be something very wearying about them too. Something lacking, if you will. As US Senator Bobby Kennedy once said, ‘The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play… it measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning… it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.’ We need more than GDP and economic progress.
The western world tends to think about human flourishing in terms of wealth and individual achievement. But the biblical concept of human flourishing is much greater and more holistic – not only for individuals but also for communities.
Biblical human flourishing includes physical and mental wellbeing as well as relational harmony, justice, wholeness, and peace. It includes what we cannot achieve by ourselves: the fruit of the Spirit flowing from God’s presence.
The Christian distinctive in flourishing is that Jesus has provided the heart cure and renewal in our souls that enables us to pursue and experience life in all its fullness. Yet there is a yawning gap between this potential and how Christianity is perceived today.
Christians are often thought of as judgmental, against things rather than for things, exclusive and not inclusive, or ‘just a bit weird’. Although biblical human flourishing is good news, Christianity is no longer seen as a public benefit. So it has never been more vital to demonstrate the relevance of the gospel for everyday life.
Of course, heaven cannot be established on earth by human effort, but something of heaven can be revealed by the way we allow Jesus to live and speak through us.
We don’t need to be perfect, or to deny the problems we have, but we can invite the Spirit to inspire us to live more generously, more creatively, and more joyously. We can share more examples of how believers make a positive difference. We can think about new ways to ‘connect the dots’ for people to show how the gospel of grace – which leads to true human flourishing – is in fact vital to making the world a much better place.
The ‘turning point’ the Chancellor referred to was only economic. Our opportunity is to contribute to a turning point in something much bigger.
Paul is a mentor, author, and speaker and chairs the Board of LICC.