As we watch devastation around the world unfold on all of the many news mediums and deal with our own personal storms, we question if there’s a solution to the madness. I wrote in the previous post about finding our hope, peace, strength, and solution in Christ. I had begun to write a second part that contained more actionable steps, but for clarity and length decided to leave it out of that post and make it a separate one.
God is the great Author and He has given us the privilege of being a part of His great Story. He could leave us out of it. He could exist apart from this story, but He’s chosen to write this one and make us active participants, not just spectators. As part of His story, we’re charged to tell of the good news of salvation, love our neighbors, and relieve suffering. Yes, there’s conflict. That’s part of what makes a story. Characters have obstacles that they must overcome to achieve goals. In order to achieve our goals of loving others and spreading the gospel, here are three things that we can do.
1) Pray and Remember God’s Word. Many doubt the effectiveness of prayer, but God hears His children. We might not receive the outcome we want within the time frame that we want, but God sees the whole picture and listens to our cries. It is important that when we pray, we pray within God’s will. God won’t grant a prayer that goes against His nature (1 John 5:14).
So, to know God’s will, you have to know God’s word. His word keeps our paths straight. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” His word provides peace and clarity. I previously mentioned that my grandfather fought in World War II and watched many on both sides of the line fall to their deaths. I imagine that Psalm 91, a passage that he committed to memory, ran through his mind often. “A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.” God’s word is life sustaining Truth.
2) Do Something to Help. While praying and learning God’s word are active things that we can do to make the world better, this point is for other gifts, talents, and abilities. Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” Bringing good news, peace, and salvation requires some sort of movement, some action. Everyone wants for things to be better. Many only talk and complain about things not being better, waiting on somebody to do something. One of my first big forays in leadership was in the Baptist Collegiate Ministry as a student. I was the president my senior year and people would come to me with suggestions and complaints. Instead of running myself ragged trying to please everyone, I decided that since they were a part of the ministry, they could play a role in making things better. When someone would come to me with an idea, typically stemmed from a complaint, I would say, “That sounds like a great idea! What steps are you going to take to see that that happens?” I would put the responsibility back on them. Then all of the sudden, what we were already doing in the ministry wasn’t so bad, and maybe that great idea wasn’t so great after all. In order to make change for the better, we have to realize that we are the somebody who has to do something. There is no one else.
In this church, we are fortunate that there are already opportunities to step in and serve. The structures are there; we don’t have to build from scratch. Willing people are needed and wanted, particularly in areas where you can impact younger lives. If you are able, invest your time into the Children’s Ministry, Student Ministry, or College Ministry. We save the lives of others and our own by discipling people early. The small sacrifice of a few hours a week can mean the world to someone and even encourage them to follow Christ or to live their lives more committed to Him. How different would our communities, our cities, states, country, and world might look if each person knew that there was a group of people always loving and supporting them? How different would it look if everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit? Wars would cease. Racism and sexism would be issues of the past. Homelessness would diminish. All of this leads me to my next point.
3) Live in Community. The things that we do to help make our world a better place involve helping make other people better, whether it’s their circumstances or spiritual health, or, likely, both. Of the early church, Acts 2:44-47 describes:
And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
The community of the early church was so tight that no one went hungry, everyone had a part, and everyone had a place. Each person considered the other more than him/herself. With that attitude, everyone is taken care of. Living in close community is amazing, but it requires a few sacrifices. It requires us to live outside of our own heads a little more and pay attention to those around us. It might require trading in an activity that you like to do (maybe watching television or Internet time) for another activity that might benefit someone else. It could require not going to the restaurant that you want to go to in order to be with everyone else. Living in community might cause you to give money to help someone in desperate need. It requires time. It requires forgiveness, mercy and grace. It demands we get messy. And as close-knit as it is, it needs to be open to all who are looking for a place to call home.
However, the benefits are great. People don’t slip through the cracks. When you fall, you can’t fall far because there’s always a brother or sister there to hold you up. When you can’t walk, you are carried. In strong community, no one gets left behind, and in times of distress, there’s the comfort and wisdom of those who know and understand how you feel. They are in the storm with you. Just as you get messy for them, they jump into your mess for you. Even more, when God’s people come together under one mind and one purpose, amazing things happen. Chains break. Damaged relationships are restored. Healing and growth burst forth. The one true God is worshiped purely and freely.
These three steps are simple, but I’m not naive to think that they are easy. If this was easy, we would have done it already. We wouldn’t be at war and church buildings throughout the world would be filled to capacity. These things are difficult, but they’re not impossible. It takes constant work. It takes focus. It takes teamwork and cooperation with each other. Go ahead and throw all of the fruits of the spirit in there as well.
We won’t get it right all of the time, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing the work. The good news is, for all of those in Christ, the Holy Spirit provides the power. Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2) is writing this story. Though there’s plenty of conflict and adventure in the middle, I’ve skipped ahead to the end and *spoiler alert* the good guy wins and the story finishes well.