Surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ means owning up to the deep, deep needs in our world. God is truly counting on us to be his hands and feet.
But, in the face of terrorism, racism, marital infidelity, sex trafficking, addiction, mental illness, and questions about climate change (just to name a few issues of our time), what can we possibly do to make a difference for good?
The answer is closer than you think.
Consider the people in the wilderness, listening to the impassioned and unapologetic accusations (Luke 3:7-9) of John the Baptist. The people know he is right. They have been lazy, and they have profited when others suffered. Each of them—including tax collectors and soldiers—responds with the same question: “What should we do?” (vs. 10, 12, 14).
Do you wonder the same thing when you watch the news, read a blog post, or scroll through your newsfeed? When faced with the world’s deepest need and brokenness, do you wonder, “What should I do?”
John’s answers to his questioners are helpful to us today:
- Share what you have (vs. 11). Do you have a platform, a sweater, a dollar, a guest room, an opportunity, a drink of water, or an hour of time that someone else needs but doesn’t have? Share it. Offer it up, with no expectations; no strings attached.
- Serve everyone fairly (vs. 13). Don’t play favorites. Don’t cut corners. Serve the poor and the people who get on your nerves exactly the same way you would serve your very closest friend. Don’t save your best only for those who can give you something in return.
- Stop striving for more than you need (vs. 15). Leave something for others. Consider downsizing. Turn off the water and the lights when you’re not using them. Shop locally. Ride your bike or walk when you can.
When we each make incremental adjustments to the way we share, serve, and store, our small changes add up. God uses our choices to make the way straight for the gospel and for the Kingdom of God.
But also remember this. The people listening in the wilderness wanted to change. They weren’t pointing fingers at others down the street or crowds in the latest news report. Standing on the banks of the Jordan River, the people realized their own deep, deep need to repent, and repentance has always been a necessary step toward astounding good.
Questions for your Monday: If you were in the wilderness, listening to John, what might you be thinking? Have you been lazy or profited from the suffering of others, such that you need to confess? What changes can you make in your sharing, serving, and striving?
I love the simplicity here… I think we get paralyzed because we think our lives have to do something big to be impactful… Be faithful in the small things and we will be faithful in the big things… It’s a bit like working out with weights…we have to start light and gradually build up… If we try to start with very heavy weights…we will be crushed… I am learning to live in the moment…the day…to gentle nudges of His Spirit…with money …time…etc… We serve in an upside down Kingdom… What may seem small in the world can have great value in His Kingdom!!!
Yes. The metaphor of the weights is perfect!
You’re welcome, Anne.
I love this, the concept in general has been on my heart lately. I get rushes of emotion and want to make big changes, get overwhelmed and then fall. I’ve been trying to think of small things I can do in my life, and not do them for my own gratification, or depending on what mood I’m in. And man you hit me with serving the people that get on your nerves just as much as your friends. I tend to avoid the ones that get on my nerves, make me uncomfortable, or have hurt me. I really need to work on that. God still shows me mercy when I’m ‘getting on his nerves’ doesn’t He? 😉 I think I’m slowly learning to have faith in the truth I have claimed to believe no matter what my emotions say, and not let my emotions affect the way I act towards others so much. (Including withdrawing). Hard stuff. Thanks, Deisra.
I’m working on these things, too, Julie. Easier to write than to do. 🙂
What practical suggestions. I have been weeding books and hope to declutter other stuff in our house. I plan to make another pass at my clothes. I’d like to let those things get back out in the world circulating. I found someone who can sell the books for me, so I am helping his little business too. And I think I’m going to get on an ideas committee at our church because I have lots of ideas, one of which is to see if we could find a way to get involved with our local black church, perhaps with a Bible study or potluck. I am hoping our church is open to the idea.
There are some people that I pray for, that I am hesitant to get involved with. My husband has said to hold back and I think he has wisdom. But prayers are at least something.
Right now I have been resting, needing to be more intentional about grazing on those green pastures and finding spiritual nourishment. It’s been a long, hard walk through the valley of the shadow.