Would you like to change the world? How would you go about it? Well, you certainly would not be able to change the world’s physical characteristics, at least not on any significant scale. So, you would obviously focus on changing the people who inhabit the world. How would you change them? You would seek to change the way they act. But how would you do that? Since people act based upon what they think, you would seek to change the way they think, their values, their mindset, their direction in life.
How would you accomplish all that? It would be a pretty ambitious undertaking, to say the least. Especially when you consider the billions of people alive in the world right now and how fast the population is growing every day. How could anyone change the thinking of so many people presently, and then pass that new way of thinking on to the many millions of new people being born into the world each year? An impossible task? It would seem so at first glance.
However, few challenges are accomplished all at once, in just one step. An elephant cannot be eaten in one bite, with one gulp, but an elephant can be eaten. It has to be eaten one bite at a time. Just so, the world can be changed, one person at a time. The most effective way to change people’s behavior is to teach them the gospel. As they understand, believe and obey the teachings of the gospel, their lives will necessarily change.
But what about people who reject some of the teachings of the gospel? After all, Jesus said most people will be lost (Matt. 7:13-14). Undoubtedly, a big reason will be the failure of most people to learn the gospel, believe it or, even though they might believe it, they will not obey its teachings. That being the case, is it still possible to change enough people to change the world?
The answer is, “Yes!” As stated, we have to begin with one person. As people obey the gospel and become Christians, they will naturally influence others to learn and obey. As those learn and obey, they will influence still others, and so on... But what about Jesus’ statement? Most people will be lost! Which people? Our task is to teach. It is the responsibility of those taught to obey. If we do not teach them, many will not have the opportunity to make that choice.
Still, it seems like an insurmountable task to teach the gospel to everyone in the world even one time. Be careful, you’re looking at the whole elephant again. You teach your husband, your wife, your child, your parents, your brother, your sister, your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, your neighbor, your co-worker. Then, the ones who believe and obey can do the same thing. Many of the ones who do not obey may still be influenced to live better lives, and eventually some of them will end up obeying later.
What if you can only effectively get across to some people just one quality of life embedded within the gospel that would make their lives better? Would not that one quality still make them a better influence in the world? And, again, as they live better lives, though they may not yet be where God wants them to be, they will influence others around them to live better lives, as well.
It all starts with the influence of the gospel on one person, just one. It moves on from there. Now can you figure out who is that first person you need to work on? Obviously, it’s YOU! You have to be what God wants you to be before you can lead others to that point. You have to believe. You have to treat others the way you want to be treated and the way you would like to see everyone treat everyone else. But it all begins with you (Matt. 7:12). When will you take your first step to change you? That will be your first step in changing the world...
Gary L. Hutchens