#WorldChanger is everywhere. Whether it’s heard at a preschool graduation, emblazoned on throw pillows, or printed on conference t-shirts, our society proclaims to us that we can all be world changers. This idea, which has subtly saturated our culture and our churches, is problematic for several reasons, ranging from being simply untrue to narcissistic to anti-Gospel.
1. It’s Not True
You and I may make an important and tangible difference in the lives of a few people, but we are not going to change the world. No one is that powerful, not even the President of the United States. With over 7.5 billion people living on seven continents, no single person can change it all for everyone. As author and culture expert Andy Crouch recently said, Coca-Cola is not even in every country, every city, every setting in which it might effect change for the entire planet.
2. It’s Narcissistic
Contemplating how I might be a world changer focuses my internal thoughts and outward goals on myself. It causes me to think about my platform, my influence, my skills, my footprint. If being a world changer is my goal, I will inevitably and consistently contemplate how the world is going to take notice of me today.
3. It’s Contrary to Our Created Purpose
As the New City Catechism (question 1) captures so well, “We are not our own but belong, body and soul, both in life and death, to God and to our Savior Jesus Christ.” Romans 14:7-8 says, “For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” Our created purpose is to image God, to reflect Him alone (Genesis 1:27). Aiming to be a world changer requires me to live for myself, my goals, my image.
4. It’s Anti-Gospel
At the heart of the Gospel is the admission that in and of myself I am not righteous (Romans 3:10), I have sinned (Romans 3:23), and my efforts have earned me death (Romans 6:23). A Gospel-centered life acknowledges day in and day out that I am bankrupt and apart from Jesus I can do nothing (John 15:5). The world changer mentality embraces the Gospel of Self, which says that we are enough in and of ourselves, we define our purpose, we conjure up our own energy to realize our own goals—we don’t need anything or anyone (as I have written about before here and here).
5. It’s the Christianization of the Idol of the Autonomous Self
Autonomy is the idol of our age. The moral and sexual revolution in our society at large says that our highest priority and calling is to be our best, authentic selves. Any law or societal norm that constricts our expression of who we think we are is deemed archaic, hurtful, and on the wrong side of history. This value has crept into the church. I think many Christians don’t even know that they adhere to the gospel of self. It can be shrouded in questions such as, “Who did God make me to be? What am I called to do?” And those are excellent questions, when ultimately answered with, “His image bearer and to bring Him glory.” Any other answer disconnects us from our creator, elevates our sovereignty, and denies our need for Jesus and our calling to glorify Him.
6. It Puts Tremendous and Undue Pressure on Each of Us
Today’s Christian conferences, books, and curriculums are chock full of the world changer mentality. Since living in the States (just 18 months now) I have been exposed to countless messages seeking to pump me up, remind me of my own self-worth, cheering me on to grab hold of my best self and change the world by rocking my purpose. It’s exhausting, really, to try to convince yourself and others that your life is bigger than it is. Who can maintain the energy to amp themselves up over and over and over? And what do we do when our enthusiasm fails? When our lives really don’t make a difference? When the most we accomplished today is the laundry? It is not only unfair and impossible to maintain, but it’s unbiblical and untrue to live under the pressure that I am going to change the world. It will lead to failure and burnout at best and disenchantment with the Lord Jesus and His church, which has deceived us, at worst.
We must immerse ourselves in the Word of God and regularly rehearse the Gospel to ourselves and to each other in order to counteract this message. We must be so familiar with the truth that we can easily recognize the lie that we can all be world changers when it rises to the surface in our Christian settings.
The truth is that there is one world changer and He is Jesus. Bearing His image is enough—it’s more than enough! True joy and satisfaction will come when we lose ourselves in His identity, His glory, His purpose. May we acknowledge that our own energy, efforts, and ideas are a counterfeit calling. May we say instead, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).