It sounds good to say I want to change the world. All you have to do is watch the news for five minutes to see that the world needs help. Sickness and conflict stretch from screen to screen.

A Christian worldview quickly informs us how the devastating effects of sin (Genesis 3) explain all the trials and pain we witness daily. Christians understand the needed solution to change of the world is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is redeeming all things. He chooses to use His children on earth to deliver glimpses of the coming Kingdom of God. One day He will return in final victory over sin and death!
But we want that NOW. Grieved by the injustice we see around us, we want the world to be corrected this moment. Our spirit waits with eager longing for the future glory in Christ.

“For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19-21)

How do we balance the tension between our belief in the glorious future state promised by God, our invitation in Christ to labor towards that end now, and the massive amount of Gospel work that remains to be done?

Our typical but faulted response is that we must change the world right now – anything less is a failure. After all, God has promised to restore all things. He should just use US to do it all during this generation. The whole thing has been going on long enough. I mean look at all those people who are suffering around the world each day we wait here doing nothing. Here we are God – we’re ready to change the world now…

This narrative seems outrageous at first, but I’ve talked with many people subscribing to this perspective and have even found myself thinking within this pattern at times. Instead of this incorrect view of God, ourselves and suffering, let’s look at three ways in which to properly understand our role in God’s redemptive plan for the world.

  • 1. A God-Oriented Perspective – Often we forget that God has a much broader view of the situation than we could ever imagine. His understanding operates outside of time and He is complete in His understanding. Regardless of what we think, God is always at work in the world. He has a plan in Christ for the fullness of time to unite all things in Himself (Eph 1:10).
    We should take whatever situation or problems we are viewing now and apply a God-oriented perspective to them. What does this issue look like knowing all that I do about God?
    We should ask Him in prayer how He sees all the issues that are happening. We should slow down from our busyness and efforts rooted in the flesh to focus instead on God and His glory. The greater story is about God. It’s all about God. When we pursue a God-oriented perspective instead of viewing things through our own eyes we will quickly find things gaining clarity.
  • 2. Jesus Christ As Our Model – So often in our passion for Christ we want Him to use us in world-changing ways. But I see fairly often that we’ve lost a right definition of what is world-changing. Jesus changed the world more than any other person ever will and He gave us the model to follow.
    He came to earth as a servant King dying a sinner’s death on the cross to pay the debt we could not pay. He tells His disciples “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
    We must die to any shred of pride that clings to our desire of doing something big in the world. Jesus is the only one deserving of all the glory in the world and He humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross.
    We must not view it as too small a thing to invest in the lives of those around us through discipleship as the primary way of doing ministry. Discipleship is how Jesus does ministry and must also be our foundation.
  • 3. Trust God’s Plan – It’s easy to feel like the work before us is entirely in our own hands. Situations arise when, if we don’t act, we feel as though there is not another human being on earth who will do something for this person we’ve encountered. Sometimes this is the Spirit prompting us to move, but other times it is the enemy suggesting that we don’t trust completely in God.
    God is good and He is all-powerful. We can trust that He is working out all things according to the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11). When things are confusing and we don’t see how they could possibly work out for good – He is inviting His sons and daughters to trust Him.
    We can give Him all our burdens and expect Him to meet us. We can say “God, I don’t know how this works out but I’m asking you and trusting you.” This trust does not mean we take a passive role in God’s redemptive plan. Instead we take a confident role walking boldly in our calling. We trust God to use us for good and for His glory in whatever big or small things He calls us to.
    When we take a God-oriented perspective, follow the example of Jesus and trust in His plan we will truly change the world.