Well, that’s a weird thing to say. Aren’t good deeds part of the Christian life? Isn’t the world full of needs?
Yes, and yes. Let’s examine the difference between a goal and a by-product.
Jesus said, “Go therefore and 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 observe all that I have commanded you.” — Matt. 28:19-20.
Our goal as Christians — the Great Commission — is to make disciples of Jesus. In doing so, we show mercy, act justly, and walk humbly with our God.
By obeying Christ, we bless others. We honor them. We love them. We meet their needs.
All of this does make the world a better place.
(Isn’t your world a little brighter when someone prays for you or gives you money or sacrifices time and energy to help you?)
But here’s the thing: for the Christian, making the world a better place is an outcome of faith in Christ. It’s not the goal.
We live with an eye toward eternity.
If I make improving the earth my life’s goal, I can quickly lose sight of the most important thing. I can get overwhelmed with the clamor of human need.
I can make temporal needs more important than spiritual, eternal needs. I can become prideful about my good works.
Worst of all, I can lose sight of Jesus’ command to make disciples and replace it with self-righteous activity.
When you lose sight of the Great Commission, it’s all too easy to start believing Christianity is pretty much the same as other religions.
Dr. Kara Powell, author of The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, describes a recent survey done on youth group graduates in their third year of college.
When asked what it means to be a Christian, fully one-third of these students failed to even mention Jesus. The dominant answer was that we are supposed to “love other people.”
Really? I could interview everyone on the street and ask if people should love each other, and they would say yes!
Who doesn’t believe we should love others? That’s a no-brainer.
Jesus said his disciples would be known for their love for one another, but again, love is an outcome of our faith in Christ — it’s not the main point.
The main point is Jesus!
Jesus has a remarkable plan for making the world a better place, by the way. It’s pretty intense. He’s going to torch it and start all over (2 Peter 3:10).
The new earth is a place where believers live in the presence of God, God wipes away every tear, and death is no more. (Rev. 21:4)
All things will be made new.
That doesn’t mean we don’t care about this world. Yes, it’s broken. Yes, we’ve messed things up. But we treat creation and humanity with tenderness and honor because God made them.
God doesn’t want any single human being to be lost (2 Peter 3:9). He is concerned for man and beast (Psalm 36:6).
The very best effort we can make on behalf of humanity and creation is to submit ourselves fully to the Lord Jesus Christ and entrust him with the results.
So I’ll just keep working on making disciples of Jesus, rather than on making the world a better place.
I believe the world will be better off for it.
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