It is an admirable goal to make a difference in this world. I believe the desire to change the world for the better is a God-given instinct that comes with being made in his image. We must also be very clear about one major issue surrounding our quest to change the world.
Good works will not get you into heaven.
The only thing allowed into the presence of God is perfection. You and I are not perfect. We make two fundamental errors in our thinking about the good we do. First, we can never do enough to become perfect. You cannot balance the scales of your failures with good works. Some believe that if they just put in enough effort to make the world better, then all their shortcomings are erased and forgotten. That is not how God’s justice works.
Our second flaw is that we will never do all the good that we could. Every single one of us, even the most concerned with social justice, occasionally pass the people with their cardboard signs. We are busy, have our kids with us, or do not have any bills small enough to give away. There are so many good things for us to do that when some of them cross our minds, and we dismiss them, revealing that we are not truly good all the time.
There are other issues with works-based salvation, and most people of faith recognize these problems. I fear that over time we have assumed people understood this truth when they have not. Believers have told people we are to love God and then love our neighbor. Over time the first part about loving God has been lost, and now we have people who are only concerned about doing good and have no time for Jesus. This exchange has taken the truth of the gospel and replaced it with social justice for salvation.
I hope and pray that Christians will be people who make a difference in this world. But I want to make sure you are a follower of Jesus first and doing good works second. Trust Jesus alone, and then make a difference. Love others because he first loved you.