Who wants to change the world? Not I! When I was very young somebody smart asked me, “what makes you think the world even wants to change?” It’s a really good philosophical question to ponder. Usually everybody always wants to change the world, but nobody ever wants to change themselves. Did the world even consent to your plans to give it a make over?
When you are all full of idealism and want to change the world, or perhaps burn it down as a group recently suggested, sometimes it’s good to try to figure out what your motivation is. Also, once you have totally burned down the whole world, it can be useful to think about what you might replace it with.
I’ve been watching people up close and personal, try to change the world since the 1960’s. What strikes me as kind of interesting, the more things change the more they really just stay the same. The world is still round, still spinning. Or perhaps not, perhaps it is really just our “plane of existence?” I’m good with some flat earth theories too, in fact, life becomes a lot easier to manage if you just imagine yourself on a surfboard, a plane of existence, rather than trapped on this spinning ball, hurling rapidly through space.
Can you even manage your own surfboard? Can you manage to stay on your feet so effortlessly you can just kind of kick back and relax? That is the part we people need to get a grip on, long before we try stepping out onto a spinning ball, hurling through space. Shrink your world down, don’t try to expand it beyond your means.
So, a big problem with trying to change the world is that we people have a sin problem. We need Jesus. We need grace. We need to be forgiven, loved, and healed. Restored into right relationship with our Creator. We need our internal world and our spiritual world to be in good working order, because the world around us tends to become a reflection of who we are inside. Who we are, not who other people are.
One of my big issues with social justice campaigns is that I fully understand we simply cannot legislate morality. You cannot mandate empathy and compassion. You cannot force and control love. People are trying to build what they think will be a better world, through force, through shaming, through the law, through external means. Sin is a real thing and it is an internal and a spiritual problem. Therefore it needs a spiritual and internal solution.
I can’t “rid the world of sin” by making sin really unpopular and socially unacceptable. That is just like trying to play a game of whack-a-mole. All you do at best, is drive sin underground where it festers and grows. Ironically the right side of the aisle often gets this just as wrong as the left side does.
So, racism is definitely a sin. So is outright misogyny, blatant hatred of women. So is envy. So is worry. So is greed. So is perceiving groups of people like, all cops, as not being made in the image of God. So is gossip, also sin. So is mockery and reviling. That can be a tricky one, or at least it is for me. I don’t want to be a scoffer, a cynic, a reviler. Now try telling me the government is just comprised of “benevolent love” and watch me fall off my surfboard and cackle hysterically like a scorning hyena.
I’m an odd duck sometimes, as a young person I was absolutely delighted to discover total depravity, the concept of sin, the great revelation that people by nature are not just “good.” It was like a missing puzzle piece that slid in place and suddenly the world began to make sense. Like wow, I’m actually not crazy! It is not all my fault. I am not the one who broke the world. I don’t have to carry around guilt and shame anymore. God is real. There is hope!
Because when you discover the existence of sin, you make the correct diagnosis and you are now free to go seek the cure. Jesus is the cure.
James 4 is really helpful, the whole chapter really, but in short “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”