Last year, I wrote an essay on idealism from the perspective of the battered-but-stalwart idealist, defending his Values against the World of Compromise. I now find myself somewhat able to glimpse the other side of an argument I didn’t even know existed at the time, and in the interest of full disclosure, have prepared a few more thoughts.
I still believe that idealism is a Good Thing. I believe that we serve a God who is perfect and that in seeking perfection we are seeking God. Jesus himself commanded us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”
But there is another side to idealism. A side that looks at what is, and because it is not what it should or might be, says “this will never do,” and casts it aside, and becomes discontent. This is the side of idealism that I have fallen to many times. In desiring to seek God, to seek perfection, to be perfect, we risk disregarding the immensely important fact that in the first place, we simply are. That we exist. That we have so many luxuries afforded us with each simple breath.
As C.S. Lewis writes, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” This is truth, and no human will ever fully be content on this earth, no matter what he accomplishes, no matter how good his relationships, no matter how expensive his toys. We will never be fully satisfied here. But if we turn to complete dissatisfaction, we forget that God created the world, its inhabitants, and eventually you and me. And what he said wasn’t this will never do but this is good.
“He saw that it was Good.” And he loved it. And if imperfect idealists can’t find contentment in being loved by a perfect God, all of our desires, growth, and striving for perfection mean nothing. Don’t let your contention with the world’s imperfection sacrifice your contentment with the perfection of God.