Most of us have at least a passing interest in the days’ headlines. Keeping up on current events can often seem an exercise in self-distress. It’s kind of masochistic, when you think about it. The news is never good – good news doesn’t sell newspapers. We shower ourselves with the various shades of “ain’t it awful,” in an often-vain attempt to be assured that the world is moving along ok…at least our part of the world. What we receive instead is pain, distress, insanity, heartache…oh, and the comics page thrown in to balance things out. :)
While a scattered few among us actually enjoy reading accounts of other people’s torment, the majority of us would gladly suffer through a boring, light-news day if we could spare people the pain that earns them a headline in the paper. I know it’s a sacrifice I’d willingly make.
I see the war, pain, religious friction, social woes, financial uncertainty, political machinations, and I’m apt to get overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of it. I mean, what can one man do? This has been the tenor of the human condition since the days of Adam – can any one person make a difference? Can an average man or woman truly alter the flow, or is this all that’s required of us: to make a quick effort at empathy, and then switch the channel to a sit-com?
I could hit the obvious here, and play it safe, or I could take things to an uncomfortably personal level, and risk alienation.
I think I will do both…
First, the obvious: Jesus is One Man that has made a difference. His sacrifice single-handedly made the dream of reconciliation to God a reality, providing hope on the deepest possible level to whosoever will come to Him.
Also obvious: We aren’t expected to change the world, but we are expected to make an impact in our own little sphere of influence. If we are Christ’s, we are to shine in our little corner of the world, allowing God to (possibly) move through us to bring that hope to others. We treat others the way we want to be treated, we do a little community service, we avoid the baser sins of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, porn and gluttony. We react to the cesspool of this life by trying to bring a bit of happiness and joy to it, as we wait to evacuate and go “home.”
We know that somehow, somewhere down the line, God’s Kingdom will begin. We are glad (and rightly so) that Jesus is in charge, and that He has a plan. He will conclude things in His way, and we will have our little part in it – meaning when the Kingdom comes, we will have our little house in the corner of Gloryland, doing who-knows-what…but whatever it is, it will be wonderful. Our job now is to believe, try to live right and spread a little hope when possible.
I wonder how many people reading this are nodding in agreement compared to the number of people reading and realizing what a shallow, self-serving, ultimately unprofitable viewpoint this is. It only contributes to the problems that keep the Kingdom from coming, and the pain and hopelessness so pervasive.
John 15:13: Greater love has no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.
Behold, a famous verse. We’ve heard it so often it doesn’t register anymore. We attribute it to Christ’s sacrifice, and quickly move on. “Yep, I’m sure glad He laid down His life for me, so I could be saved. I am His friend!”
This friendship with Jesus carries with it a possibly stunning stipulation, laid out plainly in the very next verse: “You are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.”
That’s an awfully big “if.”
Friendship with Jesus is a two-way street, and it is here that we rejoin the topic of hope. He laid down His life, giving the world hope. We are to lay down our life for Him, also giving the world hope. We lay down our life for Him by setting aside what we want to do in any given situation, and pursuing His will. This is as complete an offering as we can possibly make, and very few make it.
And yet, Jesus will need to assemble just such a company of people before He will return to establish His Kingdom. In the mean time, the world continues on in its state of despair, and the church continues to call itself Christian and do its own will, praying for God to bless its efforts.
If you wish to speed the day of His coming, speed the establishment of His Kingdom, and end the daily pain and horror that we all must wade through, then give serious consideration to offering your body a living sacrifice. Seek Him now, every time there is a ‘now,’ to find out what He would have you do. In this you will lay down your life for your Friend, and become part of the solution instead of part of the problem. This is the hope of creation. [Romans 8:19-21]