The other night I could not get to sleep for a while. I was thinking back over the last 70 years, and wondering, “Where has it all gone?” It has always been my passion to change the world and I have not achieved all that I set out to do. I do not want to minimise what has been achieved though the charity I founded, but I want more; I want my life to make a real difference!
When I woke up at around 6 a.m. I was faintly aware of a dream I had just had. The details are a bit vague but I had been having a conversation with God about the state of the world. The only words I can remember is God saying, “I am in the business of changing hearts“
The message to me is clear, to change the world, people’s hearts need changing. I have been trying hard to change the world by changing the way people think, but that’s not good enough. I can quote statistics about poverty until I’m blue in the face but nothing will change unless those facts reach beyond our minds into our hearts.
I may by clever use of words convince you to change your mind about an issue, but unless that becomes more than a mental assent it won’t achieve much. The best I can do is to share my heart with you and hope that my words resonate in your heart also. It is God who has the ability to change hearts.
Example – Racism
I am convinced that racism still exists in the world but that nevertheless things are better than they were. In colonial times Britain ruled nearly a half of the world. We British thought that we were in some way superior to everyone else and our attitudes were blatantly racist. At the time, the racism was unrecognised and considered normal! We have had a hard time shaking off those attitudes.
In twenty-first century Britain, racism is considered unacceptable. Most people are now more careful in what they say and what they think. Some just give lip-service to the idea. But, particularly among the young, there has been a real change of heart. We no longer act as though we should still rule the world, or consider ourselves superior.
I do not wish to overstate things because I am aware that we have not purged the demon of racism completely. But I do believe that the change of attitudes is in fact the work of God through people of faith, through education and even through politicians.
Is evangelism the only way?
To many Christians, the statement that God is in the business of changing hearts seems obvious and they would say the way forward is to evangelise the world so that God can really change hearts. Now, as a Christian, I naturally want everybody to share my faith in Jesus Christ as the “changer of my heart”. But I think it would be a mistake to think that “making Christians” is the only way that God is at work in the world.
I believe that God is continually working in the heart of every single human being and seeking to change hearts in small ways as well as big ways. The extent to which our hearts are changed depends on our individual response and how much we are prepared to change our attitudes. This applies regardless of whether people believe in God or not!
Things God uses
I believe that God uses all means in the process of changing people’s hearts. For instance:
- The beauty of nature
- By example and stories of what others have done
- Social interaction between individuals
- Just laws
Changing the world
It is up to God to change people’s hearts but we can help change to the world in which we live. If God is at work within our hearts it is for a reason. God cares passionately for this world and he uses me and you to do it. We cannot do all on our own, but together we can make this world a better place.
I am impatient. I want to make a difference. I cannot change things all on my own.
But if I can help to make this world to be a more caring place, looking after the poor and vulnerable, and providing justice for the powerless, then I know that I have touched the heart of God, and that He has touched and changed my own heart.