I have discovered that there are many ways that we can change the world. But I’m making the assumption that you would like to change the world. For many of us, changing the world sounds way too daunting or like such an impossible effort. I fear that many of us have simply settled into our recliners and are willing to simply “ride it out.”
Let’s face the realities that this world is a hate-filled, self-promoting, petri dish of divisive politics, segregated bigotry, and selfish ambition. And that many of our problems have compromised many of our desires or ambitions to make a difference. But what if we could have a handful of tangible activities that would – over the course of time – leave a lasting impression on our planet? What if the Divine wants to show us how He has plans for us to succeed and be used by Him to change our little part of the world? I believe, with all my being that He does indeed want to use each of us to do what we can, with what we have right now to make a difference in this fractured landscape of time. So, here are three ways that each of us can build into our daily lives and begin making a lasting impact:
- CLEAN YOUR OWN TOILET. That statement has stayed near and dear to my heart for 26 years. I first heard it from a dear friend as she was unpacking Matthew 5:7. The scripture says, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Her take on that text was that we are to clean our own homes before we start calling out someone else’s. If we are to make any difference in this messed up world, we must – without fail – start in our own lives. The simple fact that Jesus Himself gave this directed lesson to religious folks, should give us great comfort. A comfort that all of us hypocrites can start anew by first surrendering our own heart. We can allow the Divine to clean up our heart as a prerequisite to attempting the arduous task of cleaning up someone else’s. Until we get that order in sync – consistently in our lives, we will never leave a lasting impact on this world. I’ve found this prayer from the Psalms chapter 139, verse 23 to be super helpful as I check my motivation for wanting to make a difference.
- DON’T ASSUME BAD INTENT. Ouch! This one stung me a few weeks ago and should sting us all as we read it. To assume ill intent from someone else is to assume that the Divine cannot, has not and will not change their hearts as we need Him to change ours. I was privileged to sit at a conference table at the King Center Monday afternoon with Bernice King (Dr. King’s youngest child) and some incredible leaders. I listened to a few people that I had already summed up as a lesser leader until I heard their challenges, solutions, and passions. I was overwhelmingly humbled to sit at the same table with men and women on a quest to bring peace to a divided country. Had I never been in a position to hear and feel their collective heartbeat for the Divine to work in each of them, I would have remained a part of the problem rather than the solution. General Norman Schwarzkopf, “We need to fix problems and stop fixing blame.”
- DO SOMETHING! While I value meaningful discussion and discourse, we must all do something more than talk. Jesus made it clear in John 15:5, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” and then again in Mark 9:23, “Everything is possible for him who believes.” We have not been called to sit in the cheap seats and cheer or boo others in the game. We are called to be active, passionate participants. To do so requires us to marry our faith and our actions into a healthy blend of belief and proactivity. Mother Teresa once said, “If you pray without serving your prayers are in vain; if you serve without praying your service is in vain. Go forward and pray and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit”. We are to pray and we are to act. We are to be salt and light, help and hope, faith and action. In Mark 14, Jesus is in Bethany, in the house of Simon chatting with His guys. A woman walks in and uses an expensive lotion to anoint Jesus. The guys go nuts and call her out as if she’s done something wrong. And then Jesus (I love that phrase) steps in and tells them to leave her alone. He goes on the say that a memorial of greatness will be attached to her name wherever the Gospel is preached. And here’s the linchpin…Jesus says, “because she has done what she could.” The lesson? When you do what you can with what you have, you never stay the same and you’ll have more than enough!”
Friends, this world cannot wait for us to step into our problems when it is safe. The problems of our society desperately need the work of God to stir within us an action founded in faith and acted upon in love, patience, tolerance and justice!
Let us commit to being a people that seek the AHA’s of the Divine as we seek to keep our “rightness” from becoming our “rudeness.”