How Do We Change This World?

This world is broken. If you've watched the news at all the past few months it seems to be more evident than ever.  This world needs change.  How are we going to do it? It seems like everyone has a cause this day. Everyone is fighting for change. Young people in particular seem to have a zeal for social issues plaguing our day – world hunger, sex trafficking, racial injustices, poverty, and the list goes on and on. It is amazing to me that so many have a zealous desire to make a difference and to make this world a better place. I too have that same desire and passion. I want my life to make a difference. I’d love to see so many of the social issues plaguing our society to be transformed, yet I am a pastor. Many have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to pastors and many consider the church and its theologizing to be a distraction (at best) or the cause (at worst) of the social ills that plague our society.

As a pastor one of my chief tasks is to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all people. Why bother proclaiming the Gospel when there are so many hurting people and social woes? Isn’t proclaiming the Gospel an inefficient use of time to make a difference in this world? Not only do many non-Christians think this way, but unfortunately many Christan’s do too. The Gospel of Jesus is not a distraction from changing the world, but rather it is the only catalyst and hope for humanity. If we want to truly transform the world in which we live, there is no better way to do it than through proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus and calling people to believe in him. Let me give you three reasons why.

1. Only the Gospel Deals With Sin

Our modern secular world has no concept for sin. As we look at a broken world that includes child abuse, sex slavery, and mass murder the secular world has no terminology to explain what is happening. The reason for the broken of the world is the evil of sin, brought about through the rebellion of humanity. The fundamental problem of this world is not poverty or slavery or rape, the greatest problem is human sin. All these other social justice issues are just simply axils to the center cause of it all – sin.

Only the Gospel gets to the core of whats wrong with us. Education reform, gun control, and other political reforms cannot transform the depraved human heart. Only the Gospel of Jesus riches down to us in our core and causes us to be changed from the inside. Only in the Gospel are we born again as new creatures in Jesus Christ. That leads us to the second point.

2. Only the Gospel Changes People

Sure we may be able to modify our behavior with therapy or will power, but only the Gospel changes who we really are. True change happens as the Spirit of God brings new life within. If we really want to see our society change it will happen as God brings revival within the hearts of people as the Gospel spread to the ends of the earth. What can change a murders heart or who can transform a child molester? Only the grace of God.

3. Only the Gospel Advances God’s Kingdom

As the Kingship of Jesus advances throughout our world in the spread of the Gospel, then society transformation will follow. Social reform follows the Kingship of Jesus, it does not cause it. As more people turn from their sin and make Jesus the Lord of their life, the kingdom of God will spread. As God’s people begin to fill this earth then and only then will society be changed.

God’s kingdom will not fully come until Jesus returns again and establishes his kingdom here on earth. Until he returns the society woes will continue to plague us as the painful throbbing of our brokenness continues. Yet, until Jesus returns the proclaiming of the Gospel should be the chief work of every Christian (not just pastors). If you really want to see the world change seek to advance the Kingdom of God.

Only Jesus can bring racial reconciliation.

Only Jesus can help us channel our sexual desires in a way that glorifies God.

Only Jesus can give the spiritual riches of his inheritance to those who are poor.

Only Jesus can fill the stomachs of the hungry with the all satisfying bread of life.

Only Jesus can take the adulterer and offer forgiveness.

Only Jesus can penetrate the darkness of this world with the light.

Jesus is the hope of this world. As we fight for social causes – and we should – lets make sure we keep the Gospel in the forefront of all we do. Lets seek to advance the kingship of Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel and as that happens by God’s grace may we see this world changed.

A Worldly Christian is an Oxymoron

4177519542 b623fc7974 o Have you heard that phrase before?  "Worldly Christian".  Christians use that phrase often to describe other people, even fellow church members.  However, as I've studied the Scriptures, a worldly Christian is really an oxymoron.  They are two opposites coming together.

In 1 John, the apostle John is writing to a church suffering from a church split.  This split wasn't over the color of the carpet or drums in the worship service like most church splits.  This church split was over some major theological issues.  John is writing to a church in the midst of a crisis.  They were filled with doubt, thinking, "Did we make the right decision?" and "How do we know who are the true Christians?" The whole letter is filled with the apostle John trying to provide answers and encouragement to a broken congregation.  Here is what he writes:

   “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 John 2:15–17, ESV)

John tells us their are two teams in his letter.  There is team light and there is team darkness.  There is team Christ and team anti-Christ.  There is team God and team world.  John tells the church that they must pick a side in this spiritual battle.  As a result John gives the strong command, "Do not love the world or the things in the world".  In fact, John tells us that someone who loves the world does not have the love of the Father in him.  This is incredibly startling!  John is telling us that "Worldly Christians" are impossible.  There is no such thing.  You either love God or you love the world.

John is trying to teach us that Christians are a distinct people who reject the pleasures of the world and are marked by radical love for Christ. 

We are Purchased to be Distinct

Christians are a purchased people.  They are not their own and have been bought with a price (1 Cor 6:20).  Through the blood of Jesus Christ God has purchased His people from the bondage of slavery.  Through the cross God has set Christians apart to be a distinct and unique people for his possession.  He wants to set them apart and make the holy.  Check out what the apostle Peter says:

   “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9–10, ESV)

So we have been purchased to be a distinct people for God's own possession.

We are Distinct by Rejecting the Pleasures of the World

How do we show our distinctness as the people of God?  Well we demonstrate that by rejecting the pleasures of the World.  This is why John commands us not to love the world and the desires of the world.  This means we reject the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and pride of life.  This means we don't view porn, we don't cuss like sailors, we don't bow down to money, and we don't drown our sorrows in drunkness.  You see, Christians are called to be a distinct people, unique and set apart.  We do that by rejecting the pleasures of the world.

There is a pragmatic reason for rejecting the pleasures of the world; They do not last.  John tells us that the desires of the world are passing away.  Any honest person knows this.  Indulging our fleshly desires only leaves us longing for more.  We become pleasure seekers looking for the next "thing" to lift our spirits.  We buy that new outfit. We take that extra shot. We go just a little bit further with our girlfriend.  Why do we do this? We are looking for pleasure, but the pleasure of this world is not lasting.  It is pershiing.

Love for the world does not satisfy the human soul.  The reason Christians reject the pleasures of the world is because we know that lasting pleasures is found only in Christ.

We Reject the Pleasures of the World by Radical Love for God

What fuels our rejection of the pleasures of the world? What motivates us to do such a counter-cultural thing?  It is our radical love for God.  My great fear is that many Christians reject their fleshly desires for the sake of their own egos and moral superiority.  They become legalists and phrases not because the love God but because they love themselves.  Christian pursue distinctness not because they want to appear morally superior, but because we love God.

Our love of God fuels us to be distinct and reject the pleasures of the world.  We love God more than any other pleasure the world has to offer. You see, a worldly Christian is an oxymoron.  It is a logical impossibility.  It is an unbiblical combination.  Even though faithful Christians might be tempted to fall into the deceitful lies of the culture, Christians must reject the siren song of the culture and find lasting pleasure in the arms of Jesus.