by Aubrey Coleman
When I was in college, I attended a motivational seminar. The speaker was a vibrant young guy, and he spoke with a passion and vision for changing the world. He challenged us, as students, to do something with our lives that really mattered. He reminded us that the path we chose for our lives could truly change the world! Examples of successful men and women would follow–CEOs, renowned leaders, published authors, multi-million dollar company owners, people with ground-breaking inventions, and highly esteemed artists and creators. I remember the rush of enthusiasm that followed those sessions and the sense of urgency I felt to do something big and impactful with my life. But, it wasn’t too long after that I was consumed with doubts and fears that my life was insignificant in the grand scheme of the world.
Everyone craves significance. We want to feel like our lives mean something and that we made a contribution to the world. When we hear exhortations woven with a change the world mentality, our ears may perk up with eager attention. But, we can be tempted to think that in order to make an impact or make our lives count, we have to do something so profound and extraordinary that we are remembered for it long after we die.
Even for the Christian, at times we feel this rush of excitement at Christian conferences, while listening to a podcast, or while reading a biography. It might make us think that our lives need to look similar to people with incredible stories like Elisabeth Elliot, Charles Spurgeon, Lottie Moon, or C.T. Studd to mean something. It might make us feel like we have to move to the jungle, build an orphanage, or lead a revival. We must be careful because this kind of “change the world” language, even though we can dress it up to sound God-centric, can be a huge cover-up for simply making a name for ourselves or feeding our desire for significance, and it can breed discontentment in the normal and everyday things that God calls us to.
Making our lives matter doesn’t just happen in the big things, but it happens in the small things, too. Giving up our lives for the sake of the gospel doesn’t look one way. We make a gospel-impact when we do chores around the home to humbly serve our families as a reflection of Christ. We do important gospel work by daily discipling and raising up children in the fear and love of the Lord. We make a difference in our marriages when we continually die to ourselves as a reflection of gospel love to our spouses. We make a gospel-difference when we read the Bible with our neighbors, when we serve in childcare at our churches, when we give a comforting word to a friend, when we stand firm in our convictions in the workplace, and even when we pray faithfully for God’s kingdom purposes.
Jesus Christ changed the world by His life and death. He defeated death and brought salvation to sinners, and, one day, He will bring full and final redemption to the world once and for all. In Christ, we are commissioned to be a part of His world-changing work by loving Him and making Him known. If we want to do something that matters, we can simply be faithful advocates of gospel-change in our little corners of the world. And when God’s people come together to do gospel-changing work in the places and seasons God has designated them to, He continues to accomplish His world-changing work through us.
Consider the everyday moments we are provided with to fulfill God’s mission. They are numerous, and we miss out on simple opportunities when we are too consumed by the desire to feel noteworthy and known. Most of us will die without any renowned recognition, but does that mean our lives didn’t mean anything? Of course not! Our significance rests in the finished work of Jesus Christ, who clothes us with His righteousness and radiance. The greatest and most important thing we can ever do is to live a life worthy, not of the world, but of the gospel in the mundane and the extraordinary and every moment in-between. The weight of changing the world does not rest on our shoulders, because God already holds it in His hands. May this truth relieve us from the pressures of meaning and significance, and free us up to serve faithfully in the small and simple places of everyday life.