During a university speaking engagement, I was handed a question scribbled on a note card. It read, “The state of humankind as we know it is on a serious downward spiral, and from my perspective, it’s only getting worse. Do you have any hope in the future of humankind and specifically our generation, and if so, why?”
I dare say, the student’s question represents large numbers of young people in the world—they are lost in the shadows of cynicism and fear. Battered by lies masquerading as news and betrayed by false promises of utopias, they seek even a glimmer of hope to guide them on.
I, like the young man from the university, want to believe in hope for the future. But hope, like character, takes years to build—and moments to shatter. Yet hope, also like character, does not live under the tyranny of the immediate. It is built on the conviction that eternal values are unshakable and spring from a heart in tune with the heart of God. That kind of hope is contagious when it spreads from a life transformed by God’s truth, love, and grace. But... but... how do we find the Truth?
I have traveled the globe speaking and listening to many voices for over four decades, and I am utterly convinced that Jesus Christ alone uniquely answers the deepest questions of our hearts and minds. That is why my hope is in knowing and serving Him. Many worldviews offer responses to pain and despair, but the Christian message goes beyond any other answers to our problem. You see, the problem is within. It’s not the environment; it’s the “invironment.” Therein lies our real need. The heart needs to change.
Here’s the reality. Everyone has a worldview. A worldview basically offers answers to four necessary questions: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. To be true, individual answers must correspond to reality and the sum total of answers must be coherent. But someone might ask, how do we test the answers? The three tests for truth must be applied to any worldview: logical consistency, empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance (reason, evidence, and relevance). When submitted to these tests, Jesus’s message singularly meets the demands of truth. That is why his truth sets us free.
Most importantly, in a relationship with him, He brings unity in diversity within to guide all our thoughts, our hopes, our dreams, and our fears with life’s designed and sacred purpose. That relationship with Jesus is the basis of true hope and genuine change. Not so is the hollow verbiage of political sloganeering. Why the difference? Because this operates from humility of heart to serve God and not from an arrogance of power that plays God. What does that mean for us? It means the intellect, the heart, and the will must be bridged by his love and grace—coherent answers, a transformed heart through Jesus Christ, and the empowerment to live in the fullness of the life He offers. That’s where hope begins, built on eternal truths.
Before the Second World War, when all things looked grim, King George VI spoke to the world on Christmas Day 1939: “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied: ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’” After the war, German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer surveyed the ruins and said to Billy Graham, “Outside of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I know of no other hope for mankind.”
Those words of King George VI and Adenauer are needed even more now. Few things are as dire as a looming war. Nothing is as dark as the grave. Jesus alone knows the way out of that dire darkness. That is the message we must believe, live, and embody. Then our young can mount up with wings as eagles—and see the world of hope through his eyes.
Ravi Zacharias is founder and president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), a global ministry focused on evangelism, apologetics, spiritual disciplines, training, and humanitarian support. An itinerant speaker for 42 years, Zacharias is presently Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University's Wycliffe Hall and his weekly radio program, "Let My People Think," airs on over 2,000 outlets worldwide. Dr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children and reside in Atlanta. More information is at www.rzim.org.