The World is Not Ours to Save
A must-read book for any believer who plays any role in social justice or activism (as we all should be)
The World is Not Ours to Save. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson. 220 pp. InterVarsity Press, 2013.
Tyler Wigg-Stevenson describes his early adulthood in such a way that would describe many Cairn students now: young and eager, seeing evil in the world and making it his personal mission to solve it. Passionately pursuing his cause, he spends his earlier days knee-deep in social movements, leading to his accidental leading of a “nude not nukes” rally in San Francisco. Somewhere in between a naked man rally for nuclear peace and now, Stevenson was confronted by God and became a dedicated follower of Christ.
Now he has a new mission statement: “The World is Not Ours to Save.”
His title initially seems cynical, explicitly stating that it is not our job to save the world. While many people would argue that it is their call to save at least a part of the world (even just the “one starfish” of Tyler’s most-hated story), he argues that it is, in fact, not our job at all. However, to leave our focus on our inability to save would disregard the purpose of the entire book. This book begins by taking the focus of missions and social activism off of ourselves and sets it on the One who has already saved the world. By saying that the “world is not ours to save,” Stevenson implies that it instead the job of another. He encourages the reader throughout the book to rest in Micah’s promised peace of the coming Kingdom.
The world is broken because of sin, and the attempts of the sinful man to redeem the brokenness will never result in a restored world. He so poignantly says, “We don’t have to be the hero of our story, just the steward of our calling.” This truth can be difficult to swallow, especially when one has dedicated their college career, even their life pursuit, to resolving an issue or fighting for justice. But in order to be proper stewards of what God has gifted us with, we must understand the fundamental truth that we are not able nor supposed to heal the world’s wounds.
If this idea upsets you and makes you want to take a bus to Vancouver to riot at Tyler’s doorstep, at the very least read the subtitle before you sharpen your pitchforks. He couples his statement about our inability to save the world with the subtitle “finding the freedom to do good.” Tyler Wigg-Stevenson did not give up social activism when he found God, as the two of these are not mutually exclusive. Tyler is actually the founder of the Two Futures Project, a gathering of Christians who fight for the abolition of nuclear weapons. God still uses the good passions Tyler had before his conversion, but now Tyler has a new motivation.
Through a proper understanding of theology laid out throughout the book, Stevenson points out the flaws in contemporary Christian activism, directing the reader to a more biblical approach to world relief. He argues that our efforts should be “kingdom-minded,” focusing on the Christian’s unique ability to contribute to the public effort instead of trying to save the world in a “Christian way.” This book is incredibly refreshing and needed in today’s world, considering the issues believers face in this tough political climate. Christians can rest with the knowledge that the world belongs to God, giving us the freedom to do good in the world without the weight of trying to save it.