I’ve been reflecting on Christian misconceptions recently, and one that struck me afresh last week was the idea that Jesus saved Christians from the world for heaven. Such a paradigm suggests that once we become believers, we simply wait around to die and go to heaven. It also implies our faith has no practical implications on earth, maybe apart from providing a list of dos and don’ts to keep us out of hell. Thinking this way could potentially lead Christians to stick together and sequester themselves from society. Or worse still, repeat the behaviours of the Levi and priest in the parable of the Good Samaritan [Luke 10:29-37]. Isolating ourselves from the world cannot be God’s will since that’s where Jesus sends us to minister [Matthew 5:13-16]. One way to fulfil that mandate is to solve problems.
Solving other’s problems was a hallmark of Jesus’s ministry, which makes sense because God loves and cares about the world [John 3:16]. Jesus’s words carried more weight because of His actions [John 3:2]. He wouldn’t have had a following otherwise. Jesus went about doing good [Acts 10:38], and His followers now have the same mandate. It’s the purpose of their salvation [Ephesians 2:10]. The Bible affirms that Jesus saved believers for the world, not from it. If that were the case, you’d expect God to equip us with the potential to help the world, and that’s what the Bible intimates. However, we must recognise and act on our potential as Christians. Otherwise, we may find ourselves in the same predicaments as unbelievers, unable to help them or ourselves despite the divine abilities at our disposal.
Towards the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus said that those who believe in Him will emulate His works [John 14:12]. We often read the Bible with religious eyes and maybe miss the practical inferences of some of the stories. Nevertheless, it’s noteworthy that while Jesus’s solutions came supernaturally, they solved practical problems for those around Him and brought glory to God’s name. We cannot say we’re emulating Him if we don’t do the same. In fairness, many Christians and non-Christians are doing great things in the world to solve problems and meet needs, and that’s praise-worthy. But Scripture says that followers of Jesus have access to God’s power and wisdom, which is immeasurably superior to anything in the world [1 Corinthians 1:24-25]. That unequivocally implies that Christians possess the potential to solve the problems that confound the world [1 Corinthians 2:9-10]. Sadly, many Christians don’t know, let alone believe this. Consequently, we don’t partner with the Holy Spirit as we should to bring about these solutions. As a result, we don’t bring God the glory we should [1 Corinthians 2:11-12, 2 Peter 1:9].
Reflecting on these truths has recalibrated my understanding of my purpose as a believer. I see now that God created, redeemed and deployed me for a time like this to solve problems in a way that glorifies Him [Esther 4:14, Philemon 1:6]. So, if, like Jesus, I’m continually conscious of my divine assignment, my life will become less about me and more about why God placed me on earth [John 6:38]. There are several problems around us that people and organisations have been unable to solve and may never solve. But that doesn’t mean the solutions don’t exist. God is all-knowing [1 John 3:20]. Therefore, God has all the answers, and He desires to share them with those prepared to partner with Him [1 Corinthians 2:12] and demonstrate their willingness by fulfilling Jesus’s conditions [John 15:5-8].
Until recently, I hadn’t thought of my faith in these terms. Whenever I saw righteousness in the Bible, my mind went to morality. Yet, to be righteous means so much more than commendable behaviour. Amongst other ideas, it means I have access to God’s wisdom and power because of my relationship with Him, and I can leverage His ability to bring heaven to earth [Matthew 6:10]. I can use His ability to solve problems at my workplace, home, church, community, etc. It also means that the cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other dreadful ailments plaguing many exist in the mind of God, waiting for believers in those spheres to access them and bring them to the world. Joseph saved a nation from famine without the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit [Genesis 41]. How much more believers who are one with Christ [1 Corinthians 6:17]?
Like many, I was ignorant of the value I could bring to my communities. So, I subjected myself to the limitations set by the world. But God calls every believer to reign on earth [Romans 5:17], not through coercion, but by leveraging His power and wisdom to do good and solve practical problems in our spheres of influence whilst destroying the works of darkness and bringing glory to His name. Salt and yeast make no difference when huddled together in a container. Similarly, our impact on society as Christians will be minimal until we leave our churches and take our righteousness into the world to make a difference and advance God’s kingdom [Luke 13:20-21, Acts 1:8]. God calls us His fellow workers [1 Corinthians 3:9]. As we pursue mental transformation, we’ll know what to do when we see problems [Romans 12:2].
Recently, I realised that when James said faith without works is dead, he was challenging the value of our beliefs to those around us [James 2:14-17]. How has the world benefitted from your relationship with God? If you’re a believer, I challenge you to see yourself as God’s answer to the problems within your sphere of influence. Accept God’s invitation to partner with Him to bring forth divinely-inspired solutions. His ability will make you valuable, and people will reward you for solving their problems and glorify God because of you [Matthew 5:16].