Who Can Save the World?
IN ANSWER to this question, some might say, ‘No one.’ And none of us can deny that the world’s problems are multiplying so fast, and their nature has become so complex, that the task of saving the world seems beyond the ability of present human governments or even of the United Nations.
But since our lives and future are involved, we have good reason for wanting to know, Is there any way it can be saved? If so, by whom?
World leaders tend to take a bleak view of the future. In a 26-page report on the international scene, former UN Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim said: “The past year has brought new crises and few encouragements . . . The pattern of world affairs was shifted in unexpected and at times ominous ways, . . . tending to aggravate many existing problems.” He added that people are right when they “view this situation with concern.”
At the close of 1981 the following question was pointedly asked in an editorial in the Latin-American Daily Post: “Did you wake up this morning, read the headlines and did it suddenly occur to you the world seems to be an awfully dangerous, unstable place these days?” After considering several aspects of the international problems, the editorial concluded: “We would like to wake up tomorrow, scan the headlines and come away with a feeling that things are getting better. But, somehow, we just don’t think that’s the way it’s going to be.”
Youths especially tend to take a negative view of the world situation. West Germany is reportedly worried by a “growing army of aimless, sometimes violent, inarticulate, usually jobless and often unemployable youngsters.” A social worker described them as having “no horizons, no prospects and no hope.” One of these youths declared: “In my heart, I believe the world will not last another five or ten years. But we have to do something about the misery that prevails. We have come to the stage where we refuse to take responsibility for a system we do not approve of.”
How do you personally feel? Can you look back on your brief life span and say that the world today is a better place in which to live? Most persons readily answer, No. Instead it seems clearly to be heading for destruction. Can it be saved? Doubtless, you will agree that this earth is a wonderful place on which to live, and you do all you can to extend your life as long as possible. Wherein lies the problem? Did you notice the words of the youth in the previous paragraph? He spoke of a “system” of which he did not approve. Interestingly, the apostles of Jesus Christ questioned Jesus about “the conclusion of the system of things.” (Matthew 24:3-14) In reply he gave a long-range prophecy that is being fulfilled in our day. So when we speak of saving the world, we should not think of saving this earthly globe. Nor should we think of saving this present system of things that God’s Word says is destined to be eliminated. Rather, the question centers on people—the world of mankind.
Who, then, is to save the world of mankind? We are not left in doubt, for God’s Word states: “God sent forth his Son into the world, not for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him.” (John 3:17; 12:47) Yes, it is man’s Creator who has taken steps to save the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. Even a group of Samaritans, who previously hated the Jews, said of Jesus, “We know that this man is for a certainty the savior of the world.”—John 4:42.
A religious phenomenon of our day is the appearance of many so-called Jesus groups. You see the name Jesus stuck on cars and buildings, painted on rocks in the countryside. You read of huge, open-air mass meetings of the “Jesus” people. These have generally abandoned the traditional churches. They loudly proclaim that mankind’s hope lies in Jesus Christ. Many of them believe that, if Jesus were alive today, he would be side by side with them in their own particular revolution and that he would be fighting against the “system’s” corruption and injustice.
A group of such persons in Brazil were asked to put in writing what they thought about Jesus. The consensus was that he was a well-meaning man who preached love in a cruel and unloving world. They said that he taught equality of men and set a fine example of courage, faith and hope. Yet they felt that Jesus was not very successful in his mission. As one Catholic priest put it, “Look at Jesus. He was always having discussions with the priests, and the only thing he got out of it was the cross.”
How do you view Jesus Christ? As a blazing revolutionary? As a great philosopher and a wise man, even a prophet? Without doubt his teachings have exerted a tremendous influence on mankind during the past 1,950 years. In fact, millions of people today claim that they are already personally saved by him.
There is no denying that Jesus is the means for some of the world of mankind’s getting saved, as we noted from John 3:17. The apostle Peter confirmed this, declaring: “There is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:12) But how will Jesus save the world? If not everyone of mankind will accept Jesus and meet God’s requirements for salvation, how does a person get saved? If that person is to be you, from what are you to be saved, and to what? Let us consider these very pertinent questions.