It seems I am hearing a lot of Christian songs, messages, and talk these days about how we ought to get busy doing something to change this world for the better. Jesus told us that we are the light of the world and we are to let our lights shine, that we are the salt of the earth and we are to go out and spread our salt in the earth (Matthew 5:13-16). Yes, Jesus wants us to go out and do good things for the hurting people in this world, no doubt about that. But the question is why. What is God’s purpose for our going out and doing good?
What I am hearing proclaimed today is that by doing good, we can make this world a better place. Should that be our reason — to make the world a better place? Is that the reason God told us to do it? Based on the fact that the Bible says that the world will only get worse before Jesus returns, it would seem counterproductive on His part to tell us to try and make it better. 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12 — “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power… In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (NIV). I venture to say that if our goal is to make the world better, we will be disappointed.
But we are told to go out and shine — what then is the reason? In Matthew 5 (that I referenced above), verse 16 gives us insight: “…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (NIV). We reach out to others so that they will look to God and glorify Him. To glorify God is to acknowledge His rightful place as King over all. Bottom line is, we want people to come to our God and theirs and be saved. Our goal isn’t a better world, but to rescue people from this crumbling kingdom for the Kingdom to come.
As we go about shining, salting, and rescuing, we will be persecuted. And as we lose our lives for Jesus’ sake, we will find it (Matthew 16:24-25). That’s a promise we can live for.