The hope of human flourishing

Miroslav Volf and Ryan McAnnally-Linz have authored a new book called:
Public Faith in Action: How to Think Carefully, Engage Wisely, and Vote with Integrity

Their main contention is that Christian faith belongs in the public square. It’s beyond the voting booth. It is engagement and there is a goal. The goal is not to “win.” The goal is to understand the activity of the Spirit that isn’t just about our own personal “flourishing” but also about the world around us to understand what is possible in true human flourishing.

What brings “Kingdom best” to the world around us? It is about abundant life. Not just our abundant life as individuals, but the life of the world around us.

Three measurements the authors use in defining “human flourishing”:

  1. Leading life well. How do I conduct myself in the world? Have I received God’s gifts well? Am I living in discernment of how to use those gifts? Am I acting “well” in light of, and in spite of, circumstances around me?
  2. Life going well. Working for our life circumstances to be “genuinely good.” Life going well depends on circumstances beyond our control. Our upbringing, our general health, the economic and political stability/instability of our country, etc. In Jesus’ day, he lived in a place where for a lot of people life wasn’t “going well,” so he delivered Kingdom power (healing, deliverance, etc.) into their lives so it had opportunity to “go well.” It is the understanding that we don’t minister to the “spirit” alone. We need to establish physical space of “going well” so physical needs aren’t huge obstacles.
  3. Life feeling good. There is an emotional component to the whole picture as well. The flourishing life is a life of joy. It is Paul saying no matter where he found himself, he was content.

Volf’s book is a challenge to go beyond our own spiritual “well being” to understand we can powerfully engage the world around us. We must engage the world around us. We need to do it with our own souls “being well.”

A challenge I like to bring to people from time to time is this question: “Is it well with your soul?” The deepest part of who we are can indeed be satisfied in Christ. And when that goes well, we can thoughtfully and joyfully engage our world to bring human flourishing more into a reality.

 

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