We live in an immediate culture. Everything is now. It's almost like a currency. We trade money, time, prestige, power for extraordinary experiential reality of the moment (waiting in line for tickets to Led Zeppelin). This has some obvious dysfunction inherent. With no regard for the future, the only that is important is the now. And right now is only important to give us memories of the most amazing experiences that we can call up in the future. So the future is only useful as a tool for the remembering the past.
So the only thing that should matter is the quality of life as I perceive it right now. Now we are in a pickle because the past is always better than the future and so the present continues to decrease in quality. The only thing we can do is try and rev our engines harder in order to see if we can get close to how good the past was. Sucks!
Enter the concept of hope. Tricky little concept. Too much hope placed too far away in the future can cause you to become distanced from your life right now. (e.g. some fundamental views of heaven) And if you are alienated from your life right now then it really is worth very much. Kinda like working at McDonalds just so that you get to have a life after midnight when you get off shift. You hate working at McDonalds so you really don't care about it – it's a job. Christians with this kind of approach are irresponsible with their own lives and they really could care less about what happens to the earth or the people in the earth.
But hope that is placed too near in the future seems irrational. I mean most of us are pessimistic enough to think that the poverty, AIDS, war problem in Africa won't change appreciably in the next month or even year. It seems we take two steps forward and three steps back. So a person who goes around with that kind of hope is either a super rich activist who can afford to be hopeful or pretty much out-to-lunch.
But what if we change the way we look at hope. Instead of it being a goal or destination, what if it was more like a lifestyle a mode of living and actively looked for opportunities for redemption and restoration. What is hope is not so much a possession that we desperately hang onto but more like a tool that we use to bring about the purposes of the Creator in the world…