You might wonder why as one who identifies as a Christian idealist, I even bother wanted to try to change the world for the better. You might wonder why I want to stand up for my ideals. After all, as a Christian, I do believe that our world is fallen, and I don’t think that our world is ever going to be perfect no matter how hard we try. Imperfect people can never make a perfect world. That is like asking saltwater to all of a sudden become fresh.
Why bother trying to change the world then? Why not let the world naturally fall apart? Why don’t I just run off into the hills, shut out the entire world around me and create my own little enclave to ride out my time on earth? After all, I know where I am going when I die, and that really should be my only concern.
From a Christian perspective, I don’t just believe that Christianity is good for me. Obviously it is. Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Because of my personal faith in Him, my eternal destiny is secure. I know that can be true for any individual person as well who is willing to put their faith and trust in Him.
However, that is not all we are called to as Christians. Think about James 2.
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17, NIV).
I know these are controversial verses, and it might sound like I am talking about works based salvation here. However, that’s not what James is talking about here. Rather, he is saying that the evidence of true faith is good works. It is not the works that provide the salvation, but they are the inevitable result of authentically following Jesus Christ.
If that is true, then I am going to want what is best for my fellow person. I’m not called to live my life in a bubble, isolated from the world around me. Rather, I ought to exercise my living faith to help people. In this example, this person needs clothing and food. As Christians, we need to show love to our fellow people and do what we can to help them out.
However, this goes beyond physical needs. Some people need friendship. Other people need comfort. There are even those people who need to be told the truth and turned from the disaster they are heading towards. These are other ways that we can actually live in a way that is consistent with our faith.
Even on the societal level, this influences my political beliefs as well. If the role of the government is to serve the needs of the people, then I ought to advocate for politicians who support policies that make the world a better place. Naturally, I know that we disagree on what policies would most effectively do that, but this concern for other people ought to make me want to change the world for the better.
This is why it is worth trying to make a difference in the world for a Christian idealist. Yes, I recognize that the world is never going to be perfect until God restores it. However, at the same time, I follow One who came to this world and help to make a difference in people’s lives as well. He didn’t let the world fall apart; He brought salvation and reconciliation.