“FROM CHANGING THE WORLD TO CHANGING LIVES”

Matthew 25:34-40                         April 9, 2006.                By Pastor Yau

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   From world changers: Stephen, a high school boy, left a Christian concert with a T-shirt and a brochure titled CHANGE THE WORLD. This organization helps needy children in a far-off continent. In that concert, one of the singers issued a challenge. “We want to change the world with our music,” he said, “but often all we do is singing. We decided that we were going to change lives, so we started supporting some needy kids.” Then he set forth challenges and Stephen accepted. He talked to his Sunday School class on supporting some needy children in the local community.

2)   To life changers: Most of us want to change the world for the better, but the job seems so big. So what if we decided to change one life at a time by doing some small things. Jesus said that if we provide something to the needy in His name, we do it for Him. (35-36) If we reach out to one person with food, clothing, transportation, friendship and love, that may open the heart of that person to Jesus. Most of us do not have the means to reach the world but we all have the opportunity reaching to people around us. Instead of dreaming to change the world, why don’t we begin change lives, one life at a time, from those close to us?

 

WHY CHANGE THE WORLD?

1)   This is our Father’s world: The lyric of the hymn ‘This is My Father’s World,” written by Terra Beata, reflects the wisdom and power of God in creating this world and all the things in it. When God created the world in the first place, He saw all things were good and He blessed each of His creation. Man was delegated by God to care the world and all were there in it. It was a beautiful world before Satan infiltrated it with sin and turned it into an object of the divine condemnation. Even though sin had ruined the life of man, this still is a beautiful world. All you have to do is looking into the sky in a sunny day or a cloudless night, look into the majestic mountains or the meadows with all kinds of beautiful wild flowers. Look at the rolling waves of the sea and the sparkling waters of the mountain streams. No one can argue that his is the world of our Father and we need to bring it back from the control of the evil power of Satan to the purpose of God.

2)   These are our Father’s people: While there are many nations in the world, God looks at it as one people His people. It is for the people, ethnay in Greek, God sent His son to die on the cross. It is for these people, God commanded all His believers, you and me, to go and make them disciples. The world is the people in God’s eyes. To change the world is to change the people. To change the hearts of the people from being enslaved by sin to a personal relationship with God in Christ Jesus. It is for this reason, we were called and sent. We need to look at the people from God’s perspectives.

3)   For this world, God sent: In the ancient time, God sent Abraham to establish a nation of His people, the Israelis, and through this nation all the people on earth would be blessed. (Gen.12:3) In the New Testament time, God sent His only Son, Jesus, so all sinners will be saved through their faith in Him. (Matt. 1:21) After Jesus accented to heaven, God sent the disciples to bring the message of salvation to all the people of the world from Jerusalem to Judea to Samaria and to the utter most part of the world. (Acts 1:8) Through the 2,000 years of Christian history countless faithful believers responded to the call and were sent into the world to bring it back to God. This is His world and it is our mission field.

4)   In this world we shine: God doesn’t call us to shine in heaven where there is no need of light, God is the eternal light. (Rev. 21:23; 22:5) God calls us to shine in this world where people live in darkness. (Matt. 5:14) It is for this world and all the people in it, God established His church, calls His believers to live a life that others may see the glory of God through our good deeds. (Matt. 5:16) We are also called to be witnesses for the Lord Jesus Christ. Through our personal life and testimony, the salvation message is to be presented to the lost world. It is for this lost world, Jesus came and died. It is also for this world, we are called to bear witness so they may be saved. It is to this world the Lord will come again to bring us to be with Him forever.

 

WHAT IS CHANGING LIFE ALL ABOUT?

1)    It is about a new life: From the biblical perspective, changing life is not patching up the old life with some good deeds but replace the old with a new life. It is not about changing some bad habits with better ones. It is a complete replacement of the old life with that of Jesus’ life, as new creation as Paul says. ”If anyone who is in Christ, he is a new creation.” The only condition to have that new life is to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior and receive that gift of new life. If we want to change the world, we need to change lives, one at a time, with the gospel message of Jesus Christ.

2)    It is about a new purpose of life: We all know the importance of having purpose of life. Any life without a purpose is either useless or a waste. But the purpose of life in this world needs to be replaced with that of God’s purpose. God has given to each person a purpose so he/she may fulfill that particular function to fulfill the whole plan God has for this world. Human or worldly purposes can not fulfill God’s plan. Only that of God’s purpose will meet the needs of God’s plan. If we want to change life, we need to seek and search God’s purpose in our lives and be faithful in following it. It is by then we are useful in His Kingdom. If you need some help on this subject, read “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren.

3)    It is about a new value system: A value system is a standard by which we measure importance of things. People of this world have their world system or criteria of importance. But a changed life has a different system to measure values. Paul makes it clear that when he was changed by God’s saving power he has a new value system. “But whatever was to my profit (before) now I consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for His sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish that I may gain Christ.” (Phil.3:7-8)

4)    It is about a new destiny: No sensible people will ever think he/she is going stay here on earth forever. And no sensible people could afford not to plan for his future or destiny after his journey on earth is done. People with changed lives live on earth as travelers knowing well that they will go to a much better place with God forever. These people are aiming for a real home, a place we call heaven. Therefore whatever happens on earth is less important than what may happen in heaven. That is why worldly people can never understand how Christians make their choices so much different from that of theirs. We live here today but we look to heaven for tomorrow. Apostle Paul said, “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.” (2 Cor. 5:1)

 

HOW DO WE CHANGE LIVES? No one can change life except God. But we can be instruments to make lives ready for change by the power and love of God. From the text we have today, Jesus was telling His people on things we can do to prepare lives ready for changes. Here are some practical steps we all can do:

1)    We need to have a caring heart: Most people, Chinese included, care mostly their own needs, wants and more. Ancient Chinese wisdom discourages people to mind the needs of others. But our Lord asks that we care also interests of others. (Phil. 2:4) In the parable Jesus was talking, Christians need to be mindful to care about others especially those who are in needs. If God doesn’t care about our need for salvation, Jesus won’t come to the world and there won’t be salvation for man. A caring heart will motivate us to see, to feel and to know the needs of others. This is the first step.

2)    We need to be willing to go: In this parable, those who met needs of others were willing to go out to their home, hospitals and even prisons. Often times, we see many needs people have: people in our city, our country or around the world. But we do not go or send our support so needs can be met. Our God knows our need of salvation. But if Jesus was never willing to come, how can we be saved? Going takes time. In this time-strained society, your willingness to go is the greatest gift you can give.

3)    We also need to be willing to sacrifice: To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, provide for the thirsty, hosting the homeless and visit the sick or the imprisoned takes material provisions or sacrifice on our part so their needs will be met. Giving or sharing is important in bring love to the needy. The fact that God has given us what we have, often times more than we need, is for us to give and share with those who have less or little. A generous heart and a willing hand are necessary to meet needs of the needy. In this materialistic society, giving is not an easy thing to do but that is exactly we need to.

4)    We need to share the greatest change of all: Jesus said that when we do something for the least, we do it for Him. This is the difference of Christian benevolence: the whole purpose of caring, going, giving is to bring others to know God, to receive the greatest love and gift from God: salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Giving to meet physical needs is not good enough if we neglect the spiritual needs of man. The best giving is giving Jesus and His love to all people needy or not.  It is that love of God that will meet all the needs of man.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)     Aim high for your life: While most people aim their lives only on things of the world for today, we need to aim our lives for heaven and eternity. Life doesn’t end here when we are done on the earth journey. Look to God to find out what you may do to change life.

2)     Focus on the needs of others: Most of us have much more than we need. We are to take care of others, especially those who haven’t yet to know God. Be willing to care, to go and to give so their needs are met and their lives may be ready for the great change.

3)     Change YOUR own life: Before you can change the lives of others, you need to be changed by the Lord first: to accept Him as your Lord and Savior so you may have the power to change others. Call on His name and ask for forgiveness of sin and be saved today.