Can We Really Change the World?

Only God can fix the world; but as we fulfill our calling and carry God’s good news of salvation, healing and justice into the world, we become a very real part of changing it.

Just because we can’t control nature, eradicate all evil or ensure the hard-won gains of justice will last, does not mean we cannot bring about worthwhile positive change in the world. Change is fluid; cultures evolve and devolve.

Changing the world doesn’t guarantee our victories will be permanent. And that’s OK.

There are always those who will react to idealism and the ever-prevalent change-the-world language today by choosing to adopt a pessimistic outlook on the potential for deep and lasting change in the structures of the world.  

We can be hopeful, without being triumphalistic, however, and we can be realistic, without being pessimistic.

Only God can fix the world; but as we fulfill our calling and carry God’s good news of salvation and healing and justice into the world, we become a very real part of changing it.

My friend Dave, who spends his life rescuing young girls from the sex trade, recently had a telling conversation along these lines while at the gym.

Dave was on the treadmill, and the guy beside him asked him what he did for a living.

“I save girls from the sex trade by ransoming them out of brothels and slavery.”

The man responded: “Isn’t that kind of futile? If you save one girl, won’t they just grab another one to replace her?”

Dave replied, “I don’t think I’m qualified to answer that.”

The man looked confused.  

Dave continued, “I’m not qualified to say whether it really made a difference—you’d have to ask the girl I ransomed from the brothel if it made a difference to her.”

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The world changes every day in both big and small ways. I want to watch where God is moving and join him there, recognizing changing the world is less about being heroic and more about being faithful.

The distinction is necessary: Just because we can’t fix the world, doesn’t mean we can’t—and don’t—change the world every day in significant ways.