It’s a question many people in many parts of the world are asking. I try to stay current with events in several countries around the world because 1) I have friends there and 2) God as allowed me the opportunity to minister in those countries. Once you’ve been to another country and personally know people you seem to take more interest in the things that affect their lives. For me those countries are Haiti and the Philippines. Both countries are in the process of elections just like we are in the U.S. – although we are at the beginning of the process (even if it feels like we’ve been stuck in the election cycle forever!).
One of the interesting things that I’m seeing is that elections today, no matter where they take place around the world, are about change. I know you hear that in every election – at least from those who have been out of power. But this time it seems like it’s more than a political slogan. People are genuinely looking for something to change. And increasingly they are looking to the political arena.
A friend in Haiti (Haiti just had the second of three rounds of elections yesterday) recently lamented on Facebook that no matter who was elected to the highest offices in Haiti, nothing significant ever changed.
He’s not wrong. I’ve traveled to Haiti almost yearly for the past 25 years and much of what I observe is the same as it was on my first trip. There are cosmetic changes – more cell phones and motorbikes, but few substantial changes that affect people’s lives.
That brings me to the question: How should we as Christians view change? Especially changes that impact the moral direction of our countries? Should we put our hope in the political process? Should we advocate for change? Or should we just give up on change?
Here are some thoughts related to the Christian and change.
1. We don’t need to be pessimists, nor realists – we need to be Biblicists. Pessimists are tempted to give up when things don’t change for the better. Realists can be wrong in their analysis of what needs to be changed. Biblicists look at what the Bible says about change and work within that context to bring about the maximum change.
2. We need to understand that it’s not an either/or but a both/and situation. In other words it’s not either things change for the better or they don’t, it’s some things change for the better while some things change for the worse – both scenarios are true. It seems to me that the picture the Bible presents is that as we go through history, or what the Bible calls “the last days”, things change on the macro level for the worse (2 Timothy 3:1f, esp. vs. 13) but it holds out the hope that things can change on the micro or individual level for the better (2 Corinthians 5:17).
3. We need to recognize that ultimately the needed change can only come through Jesus Christ. It is only as individual lives are changed by the power of God that true, lasting change takes place. Yes, politicians can make changes that affect and potentially improve our lives. But those changes are at best temporary and lack eternal value. Only internal, spiritual, change really matters in the long run.
4. Having said that (#2 & 3) the paradox in the Christian life is that while the world continues to spiral in a downward direction we have been called to affect change in every aspect of life. That’s the battle against sin. Sin affected every part of creation (Romans 8:18f) so our battle includes doing all we can to change poverty, sickness, natural disasters, injustice, hatred, violence, environmental destruction (after all it belongs to God) AND hearts.
Where will we go from here? The answer is simple: to the Kingdom. While the world spirals in a downward direction we are marching in an upward direction toward the culmination of the Kingdom. And we will take every opportunity to make every positive, godly change along the way. Not waiting for change to be sent down from Washington, Manila or Port-au-Prince. But stepping out boldly with grace to affect change in our own world for the world yet to come.
Stay in the Word