God loves the whole world—not just a single person, culture, or nation.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine).
God loves the entire world. And that should change everything about how we live, think, and act.
How we look at the world is a driving force behind who we are and what we do. When I think upon the fact that God gave his son so that all the world could be saved—not just me—I am confronted with my own selfishness. How often do I think about my felt needs over the needs of the planet?
I’m not just talking about recycling here. I’m talking about the need to move from a “me as the center of my concerns” viewpoint to a “other people being the center of my concerns” worldview.
Being a Christian requires shifting our viewpoint. We need to shift our focus to our neighbors and outstretch our arms to the nations, like Jesus did when he outstretched his arms on the cross. We need to change the way we interpret our world—so that God and his work is our focus. But how do we do so? That starts with praising God.
When we praise God, our focus shifts. It moves from "me, you, us" to "God working among all of us." Consider what the psalmist says:
“I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations” (Psalm 108:3 ESV).
If us Christians were to praise God as the psalmist does, I believe we would see a significant change in our world. People would hear about who God is, rather than who we are, and be moved by that God.
As people see Christians praising God because of his great work in the world, they will be moved by our worship. They will wonder about this God and what he means to us. And this praise will lead each of us to action, on behalf of the hurting, marginalized, and outcast.
Praising God can be hard in an ego-focused world. It's much easier to pay attention to our newsfeeds, think about what everyone else is doing, and then get disenfranchised. But there is one surefire way to change that perspective: make the focus caring for other people. For me, this is where addressing poverty comes in.
I could spend my days focused on my difficulties; or I can spend them focused on empowering other people. I could spend my days listening to the "scoffers" of the world, and letting sinful desires take over, or I could choose to sacrifice for the betterment of our world. On this point, the apostle Peter, near the end of his life, offers these comforting words to Christians:
“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Peter 3:1–3 ESV).
We can have hope in the promises of God and his work. God should be praised because he has spoken through his prophets. God should be praised because he has come incarnate as Jesus, the savior of the whole world. That's to whom we look, not the scoffers and not our sinful desires.
We can look beyond our current circumstances and into the future of what God is doing and how he will move. God’s global perspective allows for us to shift our focus, even when things are difficult for us personally.
God loves the entire world. But when I focus on my needs, I easily forget that. God loves the entire world. But when I focus on my community alone, I easily forget that. God loves the whole world. But when I focus on my nation alone, I easily forget that.
But when I refocus on God's love of the entire world, all of the sudden my felt needs don't seem like such a big deal. My community's needs can become ways to help other communities. And my country's needs can become ways to meet the needs of the world. God loves all of us.
Our worldview affects what we do and how we think. It affects our attitudes and it affects our world. God loves the entire world. Prayerfully consider that.
*This article is adapted, in part, from my previous article, "God Loves the Entire World and That's About to Change Everything."