Change the world…impossible? Maybe, for me and for you, BUT God? “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:27).
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always wanted to make my own impact on the world. I remember being eight-years-old and declaring to my third-grade class, “I am going to be the first female President of the United States!” At the time, I was convinced this would be my best chance for bringing about change to our broken world. If I could just be successful, be known, gain the most powerful influence, then I could accomplish huge waves of transformation that would make life on this earth better for everyone. Yeah, it was a lofty dream.
In my early teen years, a pastor I had never met approached me and said, “God is going to do great things through you.” He said nothing else, and I was left wondering what he meant. I remember thinking, “Well, if God is going to do big things through me, that means I must do big things for God!” I wasted no time. If what this pastor had said to me was to come true, in my mind that meant I had to make it happen. By the age of eighteen, I helped catalyze and organize a mission trip to the summer Olympics in Atlanta and had started a Christian club at my high school called BASIC, a club that still exists twenty years later. Big time, right? Maybe this was the greatness God was going to do through me. Had I arrived? Was this it? Somehow it didn’t quite feel like it; something was missing.
Since the day that pastor said, “God is going to do great things through you,” I have always wondered what those “great things” were going to be and how I was going to know when they had been accomplished. I still think about it to this day.
Within each and every one of us lies an innate desire to change the world. We all want to in some way make a difference, be known, be remembered, achieve something of great value. This longing isn’t wrong. It is a God-given code written into our DNA to wish to leave the world a better place and to make our mark on history. We were made for this! God told Adam and Even in the garden, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” (Genesis 1:28). However, in our pursuit to this end, we often miss the true source and purpose for this inward yearning, which can lead to us going about our efforts toward accomplishment with the wrong motives and methods.
Where I went wrong when I was younger is that I believed it was up to me to figure out and accomplish this do “great things” puzzle on my own, as if there was some secret treasure hunt whose mystery I needed to solve. I made it much more difficult than it had to be, because God’s will for us and his calling on our lives is not a secret, nor is it difficult to find. Fortunately God still moved to accomplish much through me in spite of my inward focus, focus that rightly knew my calling was to impact the lives of others, however, flawed by the belief that it was about me, my accomplishments, my talents, and, if I’m being honest, my own glory, or at the very least getting some credit, a pat on the back, “You’re awesome,” small bit of praise. You know, those little, warm fuzzies that feel good for about two milliseconds, but are never really all that fulfilling in the end. None of us is ever going to change the world if the end game is our own fame and glory. True heroes don’t bring about transformation by living for their own benefit.
So the question remains, how do we as individuals change the world? How can we accomplish great things for God? We don’t. I’d like to invite you to shift that thinking to, “How can I join God in the work He is already doing to change the world? You see, God already has done and is currently doing great things all around us everyday, and He has chosen us, broken and weak vessels that we are, to join with Him, to be fueled by Him to accomplish works ever greater. Jesus said in John 14:2, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
How in the world can that be? How can any one of us even begin to think we can do greater works than Jesus? We can’t, but God living in us absolutely can! Because of Christ’s work on the cross, his resurrection, and ascension, God’s presence, the Holy Spirit, now resides in each and every person who calls upon and trusts in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Rather than having Christ beside us, we now live with Christ in us, emphasis on the us. Christ doesn’t just live in me. He lives in the heart of every believer, gifting, enabling, changing, and equipping us for the clear mandate He has given us to “go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all I have commanded,” (Matthew 28:19-20).
WE are commanded to change the world, and WE are equipped to do so through the presence of God dwelling within US. How do we join God in changing the world? We do it together by obeying together what He has already told us to do. We already have the way, the means, and the tools we need to be forces of great change in the world, and we already have Christ’s example in His Word to follow. Jesus said he came to serve and not be served. Jesus, the Son of God, perfect, holy, and good looked around a room filled with raw, uneducated disciples and said they would do greater works than Him. Rather than seeing their flaws and all the reasons why they were totally not the right people for the mission, Christ saw potential in these disciples and what He could accomplish through their lives fully surrendered to Him. He lived life alongside them, trained and invested in them, so they would later become imitators of Him, doing the very works Jesus showed them by example to do. Their work continues to this day because their mission was not their own glory or success. They glorified the Savior through their genuine love for one another and followed Christ’s example by seeing the potential in the lost, least, lonely, and broken people around them. They knew that making disciples who also go out and make disciples who make disciples was the mission, and they worked tirelessly toward that goal. They loved people as Christ loved them and gave up their very lives to accomplish the greater works Jesus prepared them to do.
The world changes when we realize that our lives are not about us. It’s not about your individual success or my own. When my efforts shift from seeking to grow my own kingdom to joining God in growing His kingdom by investing in the lives of others and championing their success, the world is shaken at its core, because this is the very antithesis of our natural human tendencies. We are bent toward ourselves. We have to fight hard against our inward focus and constantly work toward hearts that seek to serve rather than be served.
Want to see the world change? Stop looking at the people around you and thinking, “How can they help me?” and start asking, “How can I help them?” When someone comes along who is more talented than you are, don’t be threatened by them. Don’t try to keep them beneath you because you are afraid that somehow their success will overshadow your own, rather see their abilities as an opportunity to surround yourself with people who challenge you to work harder to be better. Promote others over yourself and find ways to help them leverage their gifts to serve God, even if it means they get in the way of your spotlight. Ask God to enable you to see the potential in the people He has placed in your life. Begin teaching them and giving them opportunities to shine, and be sure to get out of their way when it’s time for you to do so.
How different the world would look if we all lived for the glory and fame of God and lived to serve and promote each other rather than ourselves! That is how to change the world.