According to John Eldredge, writer Gil Bailie was once given the following advice by a mentor: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” This is good advice, not only because it is true, but because it whittles down what the world needs to a manageable task. I will never solve all the world’s individual needs, but I can become more than an inhabitant, a part of the populous, just another number in a government census. I can be involved, awake, joyful, alive!
This need is evident in every place, from downtown ghettos to affluent neighborhoods in the suburbs. Everywhere we care to look, there is a soulessness about humanity. I’m talking about spiritual zombies, the kind of people who value their television sets more than the neighbor who lives next door. The impact of this apathy is devastating. Finding the cure would solve a number of societal ills.
Just what does make people come alive? A comfortable lifestyle? Complacency and mediocrity? Judging from the behavior of some folks, you would think this is the answer.
Jesus settled the matter in Matthew 16:25-26: “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life?” Most Bible students are more familiar with the translation that reads, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul.” A technical reading of the Greek supports the rendering “life,” since the same word is used for “life” in verse 25 as the one that refers to the question of what a man may exchange in verse 26 (psyche). If you think of life as Jesus did—something more than existence, an abundant, eternal experience (Jn. 10:10)—the problem is settled. Not only does this explain how a man can find his life by losing it in verse 25, but it also explains the various translations of verse 26.
Christianity provides the only true, abundant life. A life of sin conceives a hollow, dead existence (Jas. 1:14-15). As Paul wrote, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2:4-5).
The best way to change the world is to come alive through faith in Christ. By living in him, our lives become rich and rewarding and naturally benefit those who are around us. This, in summation, is what the world needs more than anything else.