So, a Christian is someone who wants to change the world. Since I’m trying to be clear, maybe I had better add the words “for the better.” Many people have changed the world for the worse, but I want to make the world a better place. Maybe this is obvious, but I can think of three common objections; and I’d like to consider them before going on.
- There are a lot of people who want to change the world.
- I thought you Christians were only interested in another world.
- What does faith have to do with it?
There are a lot of people who want to change the world for the better. There are a lot of people who care about war, poverty, disease, oppression, injustice, global warming, education. There are a lot of people who have compassion and are doing something about it.
That’s great, the more the better. I’m not trying to prove that Christians are better than other people or the only ones who care. I’m just saying, if you are a Christian you should care. I am saying among those who care, Christians are included. In the civil rights movement, in health clinics around the world, in organizations like physicians without borders, engineers without borders, amnesty international, Christians work side by side with people of other faiths and people of no faith.
Christians want to go to heaven when they die, yes. I recently wrote about my aunt’s passing, and I’m glad my family has the hope that she lives now in the presence of God. When I think about Jesus’ teaching about the final great judgment one thing stands out. We will have to give an account for how we have treated the poor in this world, here and now. Belief that there is a better world coming motivates us to do what we can to improve conditions in this world.
What does faith have to do with it? When we lived in Memphis I met a woman who had worked in the juvenile justice system for about thirty years. Trying to make conversation I said,
It must be difficult work.
She agreed. But then, wanting to say something positive I said,
But it must be gratifying when a young person comes back some day and says, “Thank you, you helped me turn my life around.”
That has never happened.
I’ve thought about that ever since. Whatever it was that kept her going–I have to admire it. For me, I need either to see results or at least to trust that it’s all in someone’s hands who is bigger than me.
Christians believe that changing the world is God’s work. But he has called us to participate in his work. A Christian is someone who wants to participate in what God is doing in the world. Our motto is not pray instead of working but work and pray.