How to Save the World

I want to live in a world where black people don’t have to worry about being abused, harassed, or murdered by police officers who have no business wearing the badge.

I want to live in a world where police officers who put their lives on the line to protect others aren’t vilified for doing their job.

I want to live in a world where anarchists don’t see a protest as an opportunity to loot a city and set it on fire.

But we don’t live in that world. We are a million light-years away from that world.

So how do we fix it? How do we save the world?

It’s simple, really:

We can’t.

It isn’t possible. No matter how much we might want it, no matter how much effort we put into it, we’re dealing with a foundational issue that stretches back to the dawn of human history. The world has been coming undone for 6,000 years, and no human being—no coalition of human beings—will ever have the insight and the ability to reverse it.

Which is good. Paul explains:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body.

(Romans 8:20-23)

Birth pangs. You don’t reverse birth pangs. You don’t find a solution for birth pangs. You move forward into something new. The change is essential and inescapable.

That’s what’s coming. A change. Something new. That’s what the whole creation is groaning for, whether it knows it or not. It’s what we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit are groaning for.

When that Spirit was poured out during the Feast of Firstfruits—Pentecost—almost 2,000 years ago, Peter was inspired to quote from the prophet Joel:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
And they shall prophesy.
I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.

(Acts 2:17-21)

The world can’t be saved. “The world is passing away” (1 John 2:17), to be replaced by “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). We need that, and nothing we’re capable of doing now can stand in as an acceptable substitute. But it’s not the world that needs saving, anyway. It’s the people in the world—and the solution has been sitting there in the book of Joel for thousands of years.

“Whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”

That’s the only solution, and that’s the reason any attempts to fix things in the here-and-now are doomed to failure. No problem in our world can be truly solved without repentant and obedient hearts that are willing to follow where God leads—and we will not have that until after things get much, much worse. Wonders in heaven above; signs in earth beneath. Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. It won’t be pretty—but it has to happen before things get better.

Pentecost is the start. Today is the start. So much of the world is burning, literally or metaphorically, and this is a day that reminds us why creation is groaning. A change is coming. Our ways aren’t working, our foundation is irreparably flawed, and we can’t fix any of it.

But God can. God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh, and those who turn to Him will be saved.

The Feast of Firstfruits pictures the beginning of a much greater harvest. Until then, we who have the firstfruits of that Spirit have to represent the change that’s coming. That means praying for a world that’s burning. That means treating others, even those who hate us, with love and respect. That means holding fast to the truth regardless of how others look at it.

None of it is going to be easy—but today is a day that reminds us why it’s important. The harvest is coming, and even though we can’t save the world, God has a plan to save the people in it. Pentecost matters—not just for us, but for everyone.

There’s a reason the world is groaning. Don’t forget it.

Until next time,
Jeremy

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