Our perspective of the future shapes how we live in the present. This is the argument of Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow. Written by Skye Jethani (editor of Leadership Journal, author of the great book With, and a part of the Phil Vischer Podcast), Futureville gives readers hope for the future and, more importantly, a reason to create beauty, order, and abundance today.
This book really covers—and unites—two different topics: eschatology (study of last things) and a practical theology of vocation. Jethani convincingly argues that how we view the final act of God’s divine drama will directly impact the role we play today.
Jethani condenses several eschatological viewpoints into three categories. First, the view of evolution (no, not describing origins) emphasizes the idea of progress; progress is part of human history, and the future will only get better. In this view, humanity society will continue to improve until it reflects the kingdom of God here on earth. This view implies continuity between the world today and the kingdom of God in the future. It also suggests that real purpose can only be found in being actively involved in this great change.
With the second view Jethani mentions—evacuation—there is complete discontinuity between the world of today and the future heavenly state. That’s because God will completely destroy the world of today, but not before evacuating the saints. Implied in this view is the concept that purpose can only be found in doing eternal things, because the rest of it will burn.
In the third view of the end, which he calls resurrection, Jethani paints a picture of the future that includes both continuity and discontinuity with the present world. Using the example of Christ’s resurrection body—which it is the same and yet very different—he notes that God has promised to renew and redeem the world. This means that eternal things still matter, but so do temporal things, like arts, gardens, business—anything that helps redeem and restore the world.
Jethani then transitions into the stronger second section of the book: providing a theology of vocation. If a Christian’s goal is to promote redemption and resurrection here on earth, then it can take a variety of callings. He covers three, each receiving a whole chapter. Working towards order, which reflects the idea of shalom found in the Bible, is one way of tasting right now the future glory of New Creation. Beauty, for too long a forgotten aspect of the Christian life, can reflect the glory of God and the the radiant beauty we will find in the New Jerusalem. And abundance, while having negative connotations when used for evil, can also be used for glorifying God, when it is tied to generosity.
The final chapter of the book ties all these threads together under the banner of hope. Through Christ, we have hope to be united with him in the New Creation. We can also find our purpose and part in this grand narrative, as we long for his return. But in the meantime, we find hope through the vocations and callings he has given us, so we can bring about redemption today.
Jethani does a fine job in presenting a compelling, Christ-centered vision for vocation. For those involved in the arts, in business, and in social work, these chapters will provide a helpful framework through which to see your work as a calling. For church leaders looking to have an impact on their community, instead of getting people to simply repeat a prayer, this book will help them see opportunities of ministry and redemption within their community. For all readers, regardless of vocation or theological bent, the last few chapters will provoke them to thinking about what a meaningful life really looks like. This is a powerful message that many in the church need to hear.
Unfortunately, I know that some readers will not get that far; they will find issues with the eschatology—and that Jethani didn’t agree with their specific view—and reject the rest of the book. These people would rather debate the finer points of their eschatology than look at the implications of their eschatology on their present lives—the whole purpose of the book! This is their loss, because they will miss out on the best part of the book.
In Futureville, Skye Jethani writes a convincing—and convicting—defense of vocation and work. This is a book I will recommend to college students, business leaders, artists, and anyone wondering what difference their life makes.
- Title: Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow
- Author: Skye Jethani
- Publisher: Thomas Nelson (2014)
- Format: Paperback
- My Rating: 4.5/5