The Bible says that "the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs" of a new age (Romans 8:22). So contrary to most conventional Christian teaching, God is not trying to "save the world" now, in this age of man—although that is His ultimate future purpose for mankind (John 3:17).
Indeed the Bible speaks of progressively worsening world conditions until a time when humanity stands on the brink of annihilation (Matthew 24:21-22). Then, when humanity is finally ready to listen, Jesus Christ will personally and directly intervene in the affairs of nations and usher in the Kingdom of God (verses 29-31; Revelation 11:15; 17:14). He will then, at long last, bring peace to the world.
In the meantime, what can we do? Previous attempts to enforce "utopia" on others have often resulted in brutal dictatorships and the forfeiting of the most basic human rights. And Jesus Himself pointed out that some common problems, such as poverty, will always be with us in this life (Matthew 26:11).
Yet we can become involved in the most important work on earth, that of preaching the true gospel to this world. Matthew 24:22 refers to a group of people called "the elect," for whose sake the earth will not be destroyed. The elect are those who have been called and sanctified by God. They have repented of their sins and those sins have been forgiven, covered by Jesus Christ's atoning blood. They have also been baptized (immersed in water) and, with the help of God's Spirit, are now learning to pattern their lives after Christ's example (1 Peter 2:21).
The end result will be a group of people to whom God will give everlasting life, and who will assist Christ when He comes back to earth to rule mankind for a thousand years (Revelation 20:6). Then God will offer salvation to all of humankind.
Part of the elect's purpose now is to support the preaching and publishing of the true gospel message of repentance and salvation to as many as God makes possible (Matthew 24:14; 28:18-20). Although it is the duty of every Christian to ease suffering and distress whenever and wherever such opportunities arise, it is not his or her primary responsibility to become involved in well-meaning efforts to right the wrongs common to this age—that is, apart from God's initiative, direction and help.
Salvation for most of mankind will only come in a great future resurrection to occur after Christ's millennial reign. Nonetheless, those called by God now in this present age can repent and gain access to Him through receiving His Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-39).
But what about all the suffering we see daily? God the Father has promised that after Christ's 1,000-year reign and the great resurrection following it, He too will come to live on a completely transformed earth. At that time there will be no more sorrow, pain, crying or death (Revelation 21:4).
Suffering will be a thing of the distant past. The Father will erase the traumas of this present world and permanently exclude unrepentant murderers, liars and all others who would threaten His new society of permanent peace and untold happiness.
To study further into God's great purpose for mankind, please request our free booklets Why Does God Allow Suffering?, What Is Your Destiny? and Transforming Your Life: The Process of Conversion. Also, to understand more about how to participate in the preaching of the gospel, please request our free booklet This Is the United Church of God.