Whew. There doesn’t seem to be much we can agree on collectively these days save for one thing: we all can’t agree on a single thing. Some days I feel the tension marrow-deep. The intensity of our present time is palpable; it burns in my words, my actions and reactions. I often allow my thoughts, sometimes riddled with anxious musings , to drive my responses to the world and people around me, and dictate my perceptions of events unfolding.
But what if…
What if all the energy, time, and effort I use to debate, discuss and think about current and future events was spent pouring out hope, encouragement, and creatively loving the people within my line of sight instead?
What if, without reservation, I were to fully embrace the life that Jesus calls all of His followers to live: to love God, one another, and to take every opportunity to share the good news of His love for us with anyone and everyone?
If I were to take that same fiery passion that I use to examine, argue, and discuss current events and channel it instead into love and service in the name of Jesus, what could be accomplished?
The world tells me, and even many other Christians affirm, that all the terrible, evil things happening all over the world are worthy of my time and thoughts, worthy of worry, anxiety, fear, and doubt. But why? When I hold The Key to hope, joy, and peace, why do I spend my time wallowing when I could be proclaiming freedom? Of course I am to care about these things. As believers we pray, we give, we serve, we weep, but we do not utter defeat. We do not despair as the world despairs and we need not fear what they fear. Our God has the final word, and victory has already been declared.
But the world does not know Him. They cannot see Him. They do not understand that their true identity and hope is found in the arms of a loving Savior who gave everything for love, even unto death. So they work hard to piece together an existence built atop a mound of sand. And as the grains of culture and events shift and move beneath them, they attempt to adapt and change and resettle themselves in order to keep from going under. But ultimately, as sand will always do, it buries.
I am beginning to understand what it looks like to be a “radical” follower of Jesus in the context of this present time in western culture. It means an acceptance of total rejection. It means being misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented. It means being demonized for a lack of “tolerance.” It means loss, often significant loss. And it means loving and forgiving without reservation those same people who cause the pain. Because followers of Jesus are to live out love.
And truthfully, it feels a bit radical to want to trade in my conversations about masks and vaccines and new world orders for conversations about the love of Jesus, His death, resurrection, and the hope that can only be found through Him; to reject this idea of self-preservation and instead to live fully free and alive in Christ, whether for another week or another 80 years. People on all sides are so intent on self-preservation. To my Christian brothers and sisters- you know this is not the point. We exist for the purpose of glorifying our Creator and loving others into knowing and experiencing His joy and saving grace. That is all. The desire for self-preservation, although an instinct of our natural self, is not a pursuit that Christ has called us to. It is rooted in fear and a lack of faith. And in fact, Christ has called us to quite the opposite.
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26)
“If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:8, NIV)
“20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith…” (Philippians 1:20-25)
We don’t need to fear what the world fears, dear friends! And that is GOOD news!
“13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.”15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17 For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. 18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” (1 Peter 3:13-18)
What do we really need to know except for the saving grace and hope that is found in Christ alone? What do we really need to share except that grace and hope with others who do not yet know it?
May we exit the chaos of our world and enter into His peace that passes all understanding. A truly radical notion these days it would seem. But what about all these things that I’m supposed to care about in order to be a knowledgeable, decent human being? One person was not made to do it all, know it all, or care about it all. So look at who is placed right in front of you. How can you care for and share the love of Jesus with the soul(s) directly in your path? If it is to pray then pray. If it is to listen then listen. If it is to give money then give money. If it is to serve then serve. If it is to forgive even though they may not deserve it, then forgive. If it is to sacrifice your time then do so. You do not know the seeds that are being planted and nurtured that may one day grow into a harvest of change. Be faithful with the ones placed before you. There is no telling what may result as a product of your obedience.
And finally, I don’t really know what Jesus would say about vaccines, but people sure do like to talk about it these days. 🙂
Peace & Love, Amy