Violence, poverty, destructive politics...these are signs of a broken world.
Conditions like this can lead us to ask the question, 'when is God going to fix all this?'
While the words above can apply to today, 2016, I'm actually representing how ancient Jews felt at the time Jesus was born. They had felt like this every since they came back from exile and were no longer in charge of their own destiny, as various empires were in charge, the Romans being in charge at the time of the birth of Christ.
The Jews were waiting for the Messiah to show up. They knew what Messiah would do when he arrived: fix everything in the world by putting them back in charge and destroying their enemies. They would go back to something similar to the days of Solomon, when everyone envied Israel. They were the unquestionable top dog in wealth and respect in the whole world.
This is why, when Messiah shows up, everyone keeps trying to make him king of Israel.
This is why his followers are annoyed when Jesus keeps talking about his own death, and they are devastated when it actually happens.
See, the only question they asked was 'when is God going to fix everything'. The question of 'how' seemed to be settled, and nobody was considering that Messiah was going to set right all that was wrong in a manner completely different than conventional wisdom held.
Yet, that's exactly what happens. The Messiah did come to earth in order to set right all that was wrong, but the method Jesus used was completely off the board.
Instead of fixing everything "out there" Jesus dies on a cross in order to provide redemption and salvation to individual men and women. He came to fix what's "in here".
In other words, the method Jesus used to 'fix' the world was to 'fix' what's wrong in me. And in you. And through these 'fixed' people, Jesus intends to 'fix' the world.
Jesus came to fix me in order to fix the world.
In a famous (though possibly apocryphal) story, a newspaper editor once asked G.K. Chesterton to write an editorial essay on what is wrong with the world today. Chesterton's response was two brief:
When we ask 'what's wrong with our world'? The answer is that it is filled with broken people.
The good news (literally) is that Jesus came to heal broken people. To transform flawed and corrupt individuals. To make those who are spiritually dead, alive.
If I want the world to get better, letting the holy spirit transform me is the way for that to happen. Now there's a manner in which this kind of sucks, because it takes away my ability to blame other people.
I can't point a finger at a politician or a criminal or everyone else on the highway and say 'they are the problem in this world'.
I have to point the finger at myself, and accept my part in the conditions of injustice, violence, poverty, selfishness and all the rest of the junk.
When I invite and allow the Holy Spirit to transform my life, I become part of God's process for 'fixing the world'.
When I don't do that, I'm contributing to the problem. There's really no middle ground.
We don't need to sit around and wait for God to fix this world. God has already fixed what we couldn't - forgiveness for sin and the defeat of death.
The opportunity is available to us here and now. In the midst of that, there is a day where God will bring this 'renewal' to every part of creation. There will be an ultimate realization of the Kingdom of God, but our job is not to sit around and wait for that day. Our job is to go tell people about the here-and-now transformation available to all of us. To get started on the setting-things-right process which will eventually lead to that renewed world.
All of this is not because God needs us to do it out of weakness or indifference, but rather because God wants to involve us. He has chosen to include us.
I can't believe he loves me enough to want to transform me by his Holy Spirit, then let me be part of the restoration of all things. It's a lot to bite off. Some days, I'd rather just do my thing, blame other people for a messed up world and trust God to fix it all at some point. What God has offered is obviously way beyond such silly thoughts.
So the next time you encounter something that makes you say, "What's wrong with this world?", or "When is God going to fix all this?", remember - I am what's wrong with this world, and he's already working to fix it. The question is whether or not I'm willing to get on board.
I am so excited and so terrified by this. I know how often I fail. I don't want the world to suffer because I'm being lazy or selfish, but as I said - there's no middle ground. I'm either on board with the transformation of the Holy Spirit within me, or I'm not. I'm helping or I'm hurting.
Each day, I'm trying to be part of the solution a bit more than I was yesterday.