Where did Christians get the trite idea that we’re supposed to change the world? If we can all agree on anything about the Book of Revelation, it is this: the church doesn’t reform the world. To the contrary, John makes it clear the world will get worse and worse until God finally brings the curtain down. Like it or not, our unsinkable world will one day go down.
Think about it: Joseph was empowered by God to become the second most powerful man in Egypt, but he didn’t even change Egypt, much less the neighboring world. David led Israel to become a stronger nation, but certainly not a center of spiritual revival. Daniel saw God do mighty miracles but Babylon remained a bastion of paganism till the day it fell.
God never directs us to change the world. Isaiah dismissed the nations as a mere drop in the bucket to God. Rather, Christ commissions us to make disciples and win souls. Winning a Christian majority may eventually change the spiritual worldview of a nation, but not necessarily. The largest church in the world continues to thrive in communist China where oppression has recently intensified. Regimes decline. Fashions fade. Souls last forever.
Enter the words “world” + “change” in a Bible concordance. What you’ll find is Romans 12:2, which admonishes us “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The only guaranteed change that happens in the world occurs when Jesus transforms the individual men and women he has saved by grace through faith. How will they hear without a messenger?
I am convinced the vision of miraculously changing the world has become a destructive paradigm, at least for our generation of saints. It shifts our emphasis to political elections and social activism.
- The quickest way to change the world is to elect a new president or improve the economy, right? If you can’t figure that one out, just Google “Moral Majority.” Political changes are easy come, easy go: except they don’t come that easy.
- In addition, we tend to be sidetracked and enraged by the moral decline all around us. We spit in the eye of the malign culture and its captives, rather than steeling ourselves to grow outstanding disciples in a lifetime struggle against decay and hostility. We have to become better planters.
One of my heroes, William Tyndale, eventually had a huge impact on the world but it was generations after his violent death at the hands of the government. His English translation of the New Testament enabled simple farm boys to sing the scriptures as they went about plowing and harvesting. In time, his ministry really did change the world but his goal had simply been to make disciples and win souls.
God is big enough to change the world in his own season. The task for us is less daunting: share the gospel and win souls. Entrust the gospel to disciples who are trained to share it with others.
There must be a reason Revelation is the final book in the Bible. The closing four chapters guarantee that God will change the world forever. Until we finally reach chapter 19, the church must persevere under fire and preach the undiluted but often unpopular gospel. Change will come in God’s time. We tirelessly make disciples one soul at a time.
Lift up the Cross!