On Earth...

In Matt. 6:10, Jesus calls us to pray with words like this: "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven." "On earth..." messages are the reflection of various local writers sharing common experiences in daily living and then guiding renewal of the mind and spirit from God's Word. It is scheduled to appear on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Change the World

Part 1

By Ronald K. Denlinger

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[December 19, 2007]  "Change the World" is the theme of Evan Baxter's political campaign in the biblical (sort of scriptural, but not really) movie "Evan Almighty." The slogan is a noble-sounding goal that apparently draws votes -- enough to get Evan elected to Congress. But we all know that very few people really change the world, and this politician isn't likely to do it either, at least not without divine intervention.

Do you remember the line from the Beatles song "Revolution?" The song advises: Don't hurt yourself or others by doing something foolish such as participating in violence or promoting communism; as though such things are going to bring about positive change. "We all want to change the world." I believe that I can read some skepticism in that little declaration.

Of course we all want things to be dramatically changed for the better. We all might like to make a big difference in a short period of time, but change isn't likely to happen that way.

Lest we become too cynical, keep in mind that it really has happened. There is one in history who has truly changed the world.

There is a short and famous essay that very eloquently expresses this belief. It concludes this way: "I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built; all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life."

That "one solitary life" (also the name of the essay) was born in poverty. His circumstances fit those who would normally be voted "least likely to succeed." He was a man who "never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness." And yet, he changed the world.

The celebration of his birth is just around the corner -- the biggest holiday on our calendar. And, if that isn't proof enough of his having made an impact, consider that every mention of each day's full date indicates our view that his coming was a world-changing event -- we've marked time by it.

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How did he manage to change the world? He reveals various aspects of the secret of his success in one very amazing sentence. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 (NIV)

The fictitious Evan Baxter character is like most real-life people who have made some kind of difference. They didn't have a grand plan for changing the world from the very beginning of their lives. Greatness was somehow thrust upon them, and the strength of their character wouldn't allow them to do other than respond to the need of which they became aware over time.

Jesus, on the other hand, "came" for the purpose of making a difference in the lives of many. It was his goal before he ever landed. No one else has made such a statement of purpose developed in one's pre-existence -- at least, no one who wasn't also considered to be completely off his rocker.

Jesus poured himself out for the world and has made a profound difference in the lives of many. I'm very glad (and grateful) to say that I'm included in the "many" whose lives have been rescued by Jesus. And I am only one of millions (if not billions) who have been the recipients of his dramatic deliverance. The stories vary in degree of desperation, hopelessness or enslavement. The Savior, in each case, is the same.

He will not rescue every life (not that he doesn't want to, nor is everyone convinced his or her life needs to be rescued). That is not his style. His isn't the kind of revolution marked by domination. This one comes about by loving service -- the type of offer that can easily be rejected or received with joy. For those who receive him, all agree that he has changed their world.

[By RONALD K. DENLINGER, Lincoln Bible Church]

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