While teaching at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, Clive Staples Lewis became well known for his writings in Christian apologetics. One of his best-known works today, Mere Christianity, is a publication that combines three of his earlier works, The Case for Christianity, Christian Behavior, and Beyond Personality. In his discussion on Christian behavior, Lewis makes a profound observation linking the Church’s hope of heaven directly to her ability to improve and better the world today.
Hope is one of the Theological virtues. This means that a continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.1
1 C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: Harper, 2001), 134.