It seems that every person shares or has shared dreams of a future of peace and tranquility. We are all sick of the insanity of war and terrorism. We are exhausted by man’s inhumanity to man. We are tired of crime and violence. We are fed up with greed and injustice. We long for a world of peace and righteousness, where people and nations settle their differences through cooperation instead of conflict.
But many, I fear, have recently stopped believing that such a world is possible. Many more are deeply discouraged. Though still believing in a better world, they feel hopeless to do anything about it. The problems are too big, and circumstances are too far out of control. All we can do, it seems, is wait, and wish, and hope.
But the Gospel of Jesus has a message for that very mood. It proclaims the imminent arrival of the reign of God. It states that we need to first reform our present way of living and then we will have a better world.
That makes a lot of sense. We get a better world by becoming better people. How else could it happen? So the message of Jesus is plain and direct! If you want a better world, start with yourself. While we wait for the world to improve, reform your own life.
In other words, our primary mission is to become the best “me” that I possibly can, and yours is the same. That may sound strange to some. But until we tackle the challenge of reforming our lives today, we are ill-equipped to tackle the many challenges of our society. It is sheer hypocrisy to think that we can change the world unless, first, we are willing to change our own lives.
We deceive ourselves if we think God is going to hand us a better world on a silver platter. He has shown us the way and He provides us with all the help we need, but He does not do it for us. The only way we will ever get a better world is for you and me, and others just like us, to become better people.
We sometimes speak of society as if it were some sort of separate, living organism. Well, such is not the case at all. A society is nothing more or less than a group of people living together in some kind of relationship. Whatever is wrong with that society is the accumulated result of what is wrong with the people who compose it. If we live in a cruel, greedy, and violent world, it is only because there are cruel, greedy, and violent people. And if we ever hope to change the world, we are going to have to start with ourselves.
However, it may appear that you and I are not the pawns of some kind of impersonal fate. Most of the problems of the world do not just happen; they are caused. And each of us must shoulder his or her part of the blame.
We all say that we want a better world. But the only way to get a better world is to build it out of better people. So as Jesus tells us, we must reform our lives right now!