You Can Change the World! – A Look at Ways to Show Christian Concern for Others
Rev. Robert Fleischmann, CLR National Director
When I turned 40, a friend of mine told me that a person reaches middle age when realizing he or she can no longer change the world. If that were true I suspect I might live well past 100 years!
Aging is the blessing of accumulated experiences. It provides a person a broader context in measuring life’s challenges and opportunities. The late satirist, Erma Bombeck, wrote two books entitled If Life Is a Bowl of Cherries – What Am I Doing in the Pits? and The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. Getting older has helped me better understand the humor.
What time gives you – what simple head knowledge doesn’t – is experience. In writing about the often misguided zeal of youth, humorist Harry Golden wrote, “The arrogance of the young is a direct result of not having known enough consequences. The turkey that every day greedily approaches the farmer who tosses him grain is not wrong. It is just that no one ever told him about Thanksgiving.”
I cling to the ideal of changing the world, but time has taught me the challenges can be great and complicated. I know all too well the tentacles of sin that destroy lives and families.
My personal mission statement of changing the world is Biblical, reflected in the Great Commission to proclaim salvation through Christ and in the command to love one another. Both worthy efforts are often met with opposition, skepticism and even peril. The mission remains valid, however, because it comes from God.
A world truly changed, however, only comes from changed hearts. Changed hearts only come by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit working through the Biblical message of hope and eternal life. We are the clay vessels, the fragile and vulnerable messengers, entrusted with this Gospel of hope and love, to be shared in word and deed.
Jesus Christ changed the world. He did it with humility and sacrifice. Though being in very nature the perfect and holy God, He made Himself nothing to save all of us (Philippians 2). Can you imagine how different the world would be if people practiced this Christ-like love? An unborn child would live, because the parents think more about the child than themselves, their careers or personal pursuits. Husbands and wives live in harmony because they genuinely think more about their spouse than themselves. Conflicts between children and parents would only exist in a competitive nature of out-loving and out-sacrificing each other (Romans 13:8).
Yes, it is easier said than done. As a youngster I was overwhelmed by the perceived rules, regulations and regimens of our Christian faith. I saw every Biblical directive as a single, stand alone instruction and never worked hard at connecting the dots. Time has and continues to change that: by using life’s experiences to help me to put together the pieces and to see the connections.
So where do we begin? Baby steps! Start with personal time of reflection. Soak in the personal significance of the cross. Realize your own sin and the “plank in your own eye” (Matthew 7:4,5) in order to mitigate a self-righteous heart. See in the cross the demonstration of perfect love summed up by the Apostle Paul when he said, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). When we were the most unlovable, unappreciative and undeserving, Jesus perfectly loved.
As time progresses and our strides become longer, wade deeper into God’s Word. In time the Holy Spirit massages and warms cold hearts of sin and soon the plight of others becomes compelling (2 Corinthians 5:14). You begin to see the spiritual and physical needs of others as your concerns, and you will want to do something.
Start practicing within your family. When a family member flirts with sin, become concerned (Ezekiel 3:17-21). When a child is born at a time or with a condition that presents challenges, step in to help. When an aging or disabled member of the family needs more help, be the first to step forward. Use your family as a training arena for your developing altruism (1 Timothy 5:8).
Don’t stop! Eventually, take on a bigger part of the world. Unborn children are dying – speak up for them (Proverbs 31:8). When the aging are made to feel they are a burden, demonstrate respect (Leviticus 19:32) and carry the burden, even when it might become a hardship for you.
What happens when you do this? You change the world! You demonstrate an eternal optimism that leaves some people to scratch their head or others to ask you how you do it – and then you can tell them about God’s eternal solution for sin in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15,16).
Perhaps at 53 years, I have hit middle age. Yet at times, I feel as though I am just learning to walk. As maturing Christians there remains before us a lifetime of opportunity to learn, understand and practice what it means to be a child of God. There is much to do: we have a world to change.
May 4, 2018
August 31, 2017