Popular singer, John Mayer, came out with a beautiful song about a decade ago (wow! has it been that long?) called, “Waiting on the World to Change.” Something about it resonated in the hearts of many, and that song still gets to you when you hear it, doesn’t it?
Thinking about that song, thought, and what it means…well, it almost makes you feel powerless, doesn’t it? Like, we all have to sit around waiting for everyone else (because it’s everybody else who’s the problem with the world today, not me, right?) to change. We can’t help it if life stinks, because we’re just sitting over here in Starbucks, minding our own business, until all you others fix the messes you made. If y’all’d just clean up this mess you caused, we could get on with things and everybody’d be happy and we’d all just get along. Finally.
Victim mentality. It’s exhausting.
And Christians, if we’re not just as guilty of this, then we’re even more guilty of trying TOO hard to change things. We’re spending a lot of energy these days fighting for moral and political victories in a world that is increasingly corrupt and quickly corroding.
Is this energy well-spent? Or, are we just fighting a losing battle? Is there truly hope here on earth for love to reign? For everyone to come together in one accord and live in peace in harmony? If we Christians can just convince everyone to come around to living like we believe everyone should live, couldn’t we all just get along then?
Or maybe, maybe we’d just be better off going to Starbucks with our crew and talking about the stage and lighting for the next worship service, and planning our next mission trip to some cool country we can Instagram and blog about.
Nah – that’s not good enough! We need to get out there and fight for these moral/political/social victories in the world today! Our way of life is being destroyed! We have to preserve it! NOW! Isn’t that what we convince ourselves we should be doing? But is it worth it, or even possible? And more importantly, is that even right?
Haven’t you heard it said before that the earth is “Satan’s realm”? That he has time to do as he pleases, that “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8)?
So, aren’t we just wasting out time trying to change the world, or waiting for the world to change?
Wait a minute! Isn’t God the Creator of all things? So then, what does this actually mean? If the Almighty God created the heavens and the earth, why then would he turn over control to satan, if even for a time?
Let’s look to the Bible for answers.
When Satan told Jesus he would give him “all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them,” if he would fall down and worship him, it is implied that he, Satan, had such power and control over these kingdoms and their glory, to deliver them into his (Christ’s) hands. What is implied in Matthew 4:9 is distinctly implied by him in Luke 4:6-7: “I will give you the glory of these kingdoms and authority over them,” the devil said, “because they are mine to give to anyone I please. I will give it all to you if you will worship me.” Whether Satan actually possessed the power and authority he claims for himself in these passages has been a much debated subject among Biblical scholars and theologians.
Since God himself is the Almighty, and the Bible does not teach dualism (that the world is under the control of two equal forces of good and evil, God and Satan), Satan could have no power except what has been committed to him.
Whatever power Satan had, or has on this earth, was/is his only because it had been “delivered” to him. The extent of his rule is clearly indicated when he is called “the prince of this world” (John 12:31), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). In 2 Corinthians 4:4 he is called “the god of this world.” John says that “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19), and Revelation 12:9 attributes this to the fact that “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, . . . deceiveth the whole world.”
It is affirmed, however, that Satan does not have equal power with God when the Scriptures say of Christ that “one stronger than he” had come to “assail and overcome him” (Luke 11:22).
Why would God do this? Why would He give Satan ANY power at all on this earth?
God’s ways are much higher than our own, and so we cannot understand or comprehend His infinite wisdom. However, we can understand that God does not force us to love Him. He wants the choice to be our own. He could have forced Satan, a fallen angel, to love and obey Him, but He did not. Satan was tempted by his own pride, and that is what he uses to tempt unbelievers on this earth – pride. He has no dominion, no control, over believers. But God is patiently giving mankind time to choose between Him and what ultimately comes down to a pride issue – man’s desire to serve only himself and his selfish desires. And Satan is cunning and a liar, and that is exactly what he uses to tempt unbelievers into accepting – that they are greater than God.
Therefore, we know that non-believers do not have the same beliefs, understanding of the spiritual realm, and morals we do as Christ-followers/Believers. They have chosen themselves above God, and they are blind to the ways of God. In fact, 2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God.”
So, if unbelievers are unable to comprehend why Christ-followers believe and live the way we do, why are we constantly expending our energy arguing, fighting, boycotting, getting upon our soapboxes, trying to win moral and political and social victories in a world that wants nothing to do with our morals and the way we live, whose inhabitants are actually spiritually blind?
When Christians fight with unbelievers and those who have blatantly chosen to reject Christ, we may get our way with a victory now and then. Occasionally you find us celebrating because we get to keep the Ten Commandments on the wall of a courthouse in an out-of-the-way burg deep in the South. Or we convince a department store conglomerate that they should say “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays” in their advertisements and store greetings.
I’m just as guilty. I get on my soapbox and beat the proverbial drum for higher morals that would hopefully convince others that it is better to choose freedom of spirit over slavery to sin, life over death. I get frustrated when I see more and more of the traditions and moral behaviors that were once generally accepted by society quickly eroding and devolving into a culture that is hurtling toward chaos with every step it takes into a “do whatever feels good to me” society.
I understand what the eventual outcome of this will be. I can see that a world in which others are more concerned with individual rights and privileges than with common decency and concern for others will eventually self-destruct, and ultimately, have to be destroyed.
However, what have we, as Christ-followers, actually accomplished with these so-called “victories” in a fallen world, a world that we know has been turned over to Satan, for a time, to have his way? Have we actually “won” anything? Have our battle cries and tactics caused others to look to us and see us looking to Christ? Has it caused them to want what we have, and accept Christ as their Savior and Lord? In other words, have souls been won over for Christ?
Have our behaviors in the process of gaining these “victories” convinced the world that Christians exemplify the Spirit of Christ – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? (Galatians 5:22) Have we convinced anyone that the Way of Christ is better than the path they are currently following? After all, that path, the one of selfish ambition, vain-glory, worldly success is certainly making them FEEL good right now, isn’t it? It’s getting them what they want in this world. They are perceived to be the “winners” while Christ-followers are looked upon as weak, losers, in need of the crutch of “religion”.
But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
I am not saying that we should never stand up and voice our opinions on social and political and moral matters. Not at all.
There are many battles that are worth fighting. We must always stand up for freedom, for life, and for the very principles and precepts of our Faith. Right now we are still struggling and fighting and standing up for the right to practice our faith in freedom, without being at odds with the law of man. The greatest risk MOST of us face these days is still the one of being ostracized for being a little different, maybe a little “prudish” in the eyes of the masses, maybe being attacked on social media because our beliefs seem archaic. Many are wrongly beginning to accuse Christ-Followers of racism, bigotry, and others things because they do not understand why we believe and act the way we are called. They CAN’T understand, remember. They are blinded. And so we suffer for our beliefs and actions in mostly a social manner these days. Yet, the time will soon come when Christ-followers will be called to make a choice – to stand for God even when it goes against the law of the land. We are beginning to see the rumblings of this, when businesses are not allowed to make exceptions in the way they practice their business even if it goes against their most strongly held beliefs.
We are certainly already on that slippery slope to giving up our religious freedoms.
And so it is our instinct to lash out and fight hard against this world. And to an extent, we should always continue to stand for our rights and freedoms to worship and live according to our faith and beliefs.
But I’m thinking that maybe we’re going about a lot of things in the wrong way, because it seems that we are alienating unbelievers more by the way were are living…and this is not the will of God. God’s will is that ALL should come to Him. But if we are pushing others away because we are so intent on having things our way without first seeking change within hearts and minds, then we are at odds with His plan overall. I’m thinking that it’s long past the time that we re-evaluate our methods.
Instead of trying to convince or FORCE the world in which we live to become more like us, and look more like us, Christ-followers should be focused on becoming more and more set apart from the world, and looking more and more different from the world in which we are living.
To live our lives in obedience to God we do not have to force the world to conform to His image. We do not need to make this world a safer, prettier, easier place for Christians to live. This world is NEVER going to live up to what we would hope it could be until Christ returns.
Meanwhile, living our lives in obedience to God means accepting that we will become different, unlike this world, and possibly even suffer and endure persecution for our beliefs.
Are you willing to follow Christ under those circumstances? Under persecution and suffering?
The Great Commission given to us by Christ was not to go forth and change the world, but to “go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28: 19-20)
The way to “make disciples” is the same way Christ did – by relationship, one-on-one relationships, winning over hearts and minds through love and deed, rather than by force.
Then, we are instructed to take them in, into our inner circles of friendship, and lovingly teach them about Christ and His commands and teachings on how we should live.
The response, how we live our lives, is not something we do out of duty in order to earn salvation or blessings from God. No, it is our offering back to God. It is to be a self-sacrificial, willing offering, given freely out thankfulness to Him, for all He has done for us, saving our souls for eternity, and for His love for us and our love for Him.
We don’t submit our lives to God because we are afraid of His wrath, or because we want blessings from Him that will make our lives easier. No, we do so because we love Him and we are thankful. And we understand that the reward for our obedience may not be found in this world, but in the eternal life we will share with Him.
And submitting my life to follow Christ has become a blessing, not a chore or a hardship. Once I understood the depth of what He has done for me – that He accepted the punishment, endured the wrath of God FOR me, for MY sin – it has become overwhelmingly easy to love and adore Him, and to continually give up my own selfish desires and live FOR HIM.
It’s not easy – because I’m still a fallen human being living in a fallen world. Becoming a Christian did not all the sudden make it simple to just fall in line and start living like a perfect little angel. It’s a journey – a daily walk with Christ, daily putting my old ways and desires and wants to death and turning to Him for the way of life. It’s still a struggle, but it is not impossible – because He has given me the gift of HIS SPIRIT to guide me.
Following God’s commandments, living like Christ did, becoming more and more like Christ every day, is ONLY possible in this world with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit which lives inside of us once we have chosen to believe and follow Christ. It is impossible, therefore, to expect the unbelievers of this world, which is still Satan’s realm for a time, to live out their lives the same way we do when they do not have the same Spirit guiding them.
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)
So for now, as Christ-followers, instead of fighting for hollow victories that feed our self-righteous attitudes and help us look more like the world, we should seriously consider what is more important with every “stand” we take – and that is each individual soul that may be affected.
We should not be full of anger and fear that the world is continuing its decline, and that we will suffer because our beliefs make us different. Those sufferings are only for a short time.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. (1 Peter 5:10)
Instead, we should rejoice that we have been set apart, called to be different, to be a light, a “City on a Hill”, that shines forth in the darkness and serves as a beacon to those who are searching in the midst of that darkness.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Because there are many who are searching. So many.
And we need to be DIFFERENT in order to be seen. Don’t be afraid to be different, set apart.
If the lost are searching for an answer from their pit of darkness and finding only the angry, self-righteous Christians petulantly fighting for their own personal rights in this world, looking a lot just like every other self-serving person in this world, they will not be seeing the Light of Christ in us. And we will have lost our opportunity to lead them to Christ, their only Way out of the darkness.
And the unbelievers will remain lost, because the Light of Christ is being smothered by our self-righteous indignation, fear, and anger.
But you must be careful so that your freedom does not cause others with a weaker conscience to stumble. (1 Corinthians 8:9)
Am I a little bit afraid about what is ahead, about how the world is becoming a darker and darker place to live? Am I concerned that I may lose more of my personal rights to live the way that I believe and know in my heart to be right and true, according to God’s Word? Yes. The truth is a resounding yes! I have moments of doubt and fear, and I am especially concerned at times about what my children may have to face in the future.
However, those moments of fear are because I am still human, and still living in a fallen world. And that is why I must constantly turn my focus back to Jesus, and pray for strength and courage to call upon that supernatural, Holy Spirit power within me that assures me that I have truly been born to a new life in Christ. That, though my body remains in this dark world, the Light of Heaven shines within me, and can never be extinguished.
So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
Even though we still live on this earth in our human, fleshly bodies, and are still capable of sinning, our new lives have begun. Therefore, we are forgiven of our sins – the ones we have committed, and the ones we will commit, as long as we confess and repent of our sins. So we do not live in fear of the darkness, of our old lives, or of this world.
Fear makes it impossible to love. Fear leads to rejection and prejudice and judgment.
I firmly believe that so many of the painful problems we see in our world today – prejudice, racial strife, sexual immorality and bondage, slavery, political factions, war, and the systemic inability to effectively find ways to serve others who are hurting, bullied, starving, diseased, in poverty, homeless, outcast, in pain, mentally impaired, and suffering for whatever reason – stem from a spirit of FEAR, which is an ungodly spirit, a spirit from the pit of hell!
And Christ-followers, it is our duty to love others, not judge others. Judgment is left to God alone. We are to live like Christ, who said,
“If anyone hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge that person. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12: 47-50)
Reacting in anger and fear because the rest of the world does not see things our way, refuses to live the way we (try to) do, and continues upon a worldly path of self-destruction, does nothing to truly bring about the change that our hearts are truly desiring.
The only thing that will bring about the change that we desire as followers of Christ is to STOP the fighting, STOP the self-righteous, sanctimonious preaching and yelling, STOP living in fear, STOP being so judgmental…REPENT of those things… and PRAY for hearts to be changed, one person at at time, as we love them, and give ourselves in relationship with them, praying that they will give their hearts over to Christ, and ask Him to be Lord of their lives.
Then if my people [that is, the believers, Christ-followers] who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Christ-Followers, do not fear being set apart. Do not fear having to suffer for Christ. Do not fear others who are against you, who persecute you. They may have a victory now, only for a short time…
But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. (1 John 4:4)
Stop waiting and fighting so hard for the world to change, fellow Christ-Followers. And stop trying to look so much like the world just to get along or get ahead. Instead, allow Christ’s Spirit in you to be the change, to set you apart for His purpose.