You Can’t Change the World

39009419_sSometimes it seems that for all of our good intentions, we can get off track in our thinking. Consequently we think we are supposed to be doing something that we really are not.

Take, for instance, the idea of changing the world. That sounds like a really swell idea. How noble. How ambitious. But is it even right? Does God intend for us to change this world? Don’t get me wrong, yes—absolutely yes—we are supposed to have a very positive effect on this world as salt and light. But change it?

Jesus came into this dark world as light (Jn. 3:19). The world is still in darkness (Php. 2:15). The whole world still remains under “the power of the evil one” (1 Jn. 5:19).

Does this mean Jesus failed? Not at all. He didn’t come to change the world, He came to seek and save the lost in it (Luke 19:10). He came to provide a way of escape from it. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father” (Gal. 1:3-4).

Our purpose as God’s people is not to change this world but to be salt and light in it; that others can see the glory of God through us and know that there is hope beyond this world and this life.

Yes, lives are changed in the process, but the world continues on its path to the end to which its “god” leads it (2 Cor. 4:4).

Be salt and light? Be an influence for good and righteousness? Help lead as many others as we possibly can to all spiritual blessings in Christ?

Yes, yes, and yes!

But, change the world? No.

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I Don’t Look Like Jesus

5839424_sWhat makes one “like” Jesus? How does one know what to do in answering the question, “What would Jesus do?” What does it look like when Jesus is “formed in” us (Gal. 4:19)?  What does it mean to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29)?

I wish to be like Jesus, I really do. I want my life to look like Him. I pray that I am more like Him today than I have ever been. But I also know there are so many ways in which I am not like Him. I don’t look like Jesus when…

  • my response to humankind is anger or resentment or disgust instead of compassion (Lk. 7:13).
  • I cannot feel comfortable in the company of the irreligious (Mk. 2:15).
  • my only associations are other church people (Lk. 15:2).
  • people with wrecked and ruined lives do not feel comfortable around me (Matt. 9:36).
  • my own preferences and ideas carry more weight in the practice of my faith than does God’s own word (Jn. 4:34).
  • I do not possess an overwhelming sense of utter and complete dependence on God always (Jn. 5:30).
  • in helping serve people in need I fail to also point them to spiritual food and clothing and shelter (Jn. 6:27).
  • I isolate myself from the world (Lk. 13:22).
  • I think everyone will love me (Jn. 15:18).
  • protecting personal comforts prevent me from engaging the world (Lk. 9:58).
  • my family ties prevail over spiritual ties (Matt. 12:48-50).
  • I only preach to people and fail to serve them (Matt. 9:35).
  • prayer is only of marginal importance and infrequently practiced (Mk. 1:35).
  • tradition takes priority in my actions and practices over God’s own word (Mk. 7:8-9).
  • temptation cannot be met and defeated through the use of Scripture (Matt. 4:4,7).
  • I expect people to come to me and I am unwilling to go to them (Lk. 13:22).
  • if concern for the condition of lost souls is not the highest concern in my life (Lk. 19:10).

It appears that I don’t look much like Jesus.

Don’t get me wrong, it is NOT that our being accepted and received by God is based on our ability to emulate Christ. It isn’t as if He’ll love me more the better job I do of being Christ-like. That would put my standing with God on the basis of human merit and that is actually “contrary” to the gospel (Gal. 1:8).

Neither is this about heaping up guilt for our shortcomings. If it were, that wouldn’t be like Jesus either.

Instead, I need to know that growing up “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” is the objective (Eph. 4:13). And, no matter how far I’ve made it, I still have a long way to go. There is no place to stop, no time to look around and compare my progress with others, no reason to despair and give up. He is there every step of the way to help, to encourage, to restore, to heal, to forgive, and to guide.

The fact that I’m not like Jesus in so many ways motivates me. It’s like Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Php. 3:12).

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