When I was young, Jim Reeves used to sing a song with the words:
“This world is not my home, I’m just a-passin’ through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore”
Now, I understand what the songwriter was trying to say, but I can’t say that I agree with him. This world IS our home and we have the opportunity of making it a better place for future generations.
The purpose of this article is not to talk about what happens when we die, but rather to explore our place in the world in which we now live and how we can make it better.
When Jesus came into this world as the son of God, he certainly left the world a far richer place than when he was born. For 30 years he “made this world his home” as he taught, he showed us by example what God was like and made possible reconciliation between man and his creator.
The good news is that Jesus is still with us though not in a physical form. We are now his hands and his feet. He is given to us the enormous privilege of having a effect upon the world around us. Together, we can change our world.
Progress So Far
Since Jesus’s life on Earth, 2000 years ago, have we made any difference so far?
- In Roman times, about 50% of the Western world were slaves, with no rights, living in abject poverty. Legal slavery as they been abolished throughout the world. (Illegal forms of slavery do however still exist.)
- 200 years ago, life expectancy ranged from 25 in India to 40 in the United Kingdom. Now the lowest life expectancy is in Afghanistan at 44 and the highest is Japan at 83.
- For most of human history the world has been dominated by men. Women have had few rights and have definitely been treated as second class citizens. This is now changing through much of the world but further progress is needed.
- Throughout history, education has been unavailable for the bulk of the population. Now a majority of children throughout the world do at least receive a primary education.
- In times past, people were helpless in the face of diseases, plagues and pandemics. They knew nothing about bacteria and viruses and antibacterials were unknown. Although there is long way to go, smallpox has been eliminated, tuberculosis has been virtually wiped out and modern drugs have stopped the spread of leprosy.
- The percentage of people living below the extreme poverty level ($1.25 per day) has reduced from 52% in 1978 to 26% in 2008.
How can we help to change our world for future generations. Although much has been achieved, there is still much more to do. Here are some of the things that could be changed in the future:
- Seek justice for the millions still living in virtual slavery in bonded labour and other forms of exploitation.
- Seek a reduction in prejudice against all minorities whether those minorities are racial, language based or related to gender.
- Ensure that there is work for everybody and that all can earn a decent living wage.
- Invest in the future by ensuring that all the children of the world are educated to at least primary level or preferably to secondary level.
- Encourage research into the diseases which threaten so many including Malaria and HIV AIDS.
- Seek a fairer distribution of income and wealth throughout the world to avoid concentrating wealth in the hands of a few leaving many living in extreme poverty.
Who can help?
- Charity workers.
- Doctors, nurses and carers.
- Political activists seeking justice for the oppressed.
- Lawyers and politicians when they honestly seek justice.
- Scientists and engineers researching diseases and seeking to make the world a safer place.
- Ordinary people caring and looking after the interests of other people in their everyday lives.
- People who give their time or money to a charity or other organisation when they cannot help directly themselves.
Why should we care?
Firstly, we should care for the world and the people in it because God cares deeply for us all.
Secondly, we should care because we are all connected. This means that:
- When a child in another country has to go to bed hungry then I am hungry too.
- Every time a marriage breaks down, even if I do not know the people concerned, then my quality-of-life suffers.
- When a scientist achieves a breakthrough in conquering some disease then I can rejoice even if I do not know anyone suffering from that disease.
- When I give my own resources to somebody else then I am enriched as well as the recipient.
Thirdly, we are connected to Jesus (God). In the well-known parable of the “sheep and goats”, Jesus said that whatever we do to somebody else, then we are showing that kindness to Jesus himself. And when we fail to show kindness to a fellow human being, we have failed to show kindness to Him!
The world system is often based on selfishness or self-interest. But this is wrong. By not caring for other people then we ourselves suffer. Because we are all connected, it is in fact in our self-interest to seek the interests of others and to seek the interests of God Himself. That is truly loving God and loving our neighbour as ourselves. So selfishness is out, caring is in, loving and compassion rule!
We have a mandate to change our world. Will you join with me in a passionate determination to change the world we live in and make it a better place for our children, our grandchildren and future generations.