This week I am going to speak to both our middle school and high school groups at my church about the idea that God is calling them to “do something,” in a world that desperately needs more people to be “doing something.” What something? Something that God is calling them to. It is that simple.
Yearly, our church focuses a series on providing hope thought resources, education, service, etc. to a world in major need of hope. Its not that we don’t do this all the time, our congregation is incredible generous, but for 3 weeks this year we give all our energy towards this. The problem is, all too often, when speaking to young people, or perhaps people in general, it is easy to motivate but difficult to push move action. I could write out 1,000 moving stories about children living in poverty, people enslaved around the world, the lack of clean water that causes health problems in almost 1 billion people around the world. You would likely be motivated. But would you be moved to action? Honestly, I am not sure I would be moved to action and I am the one who would have written them.
When I think of how much need there in n the world I am reminded of the final scene in Schindler’s list, where Oskar Schindler looks at his finger and laments that the ring we wore could have bought one more person’s life. He had done so much and yet he found himself to have not done enough.
The problem is that we see the fire hydrant open, flowing forth the atrocities of the world, and it is our only place to get a drink. It’s the only place we see to take part. We are thirsty. We want a drink. We want to take part. But it is too overwhelming.
You are hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t want to change the world, to feed hungry children, to free people from slavery. We all want to be superman, but none of us can fly.
Superheroes have one goal… save the world. From villains, from impending danger, from greed, from anything. They are called to save the world. But our call is not to save the world, it is to change the world. Batman is my favorite superhero because he is a regular guy who has awesome tools. I have told my wife that I could actually be Batman. She disagrees. You are not a superhero, nor am I (sigh of dissapointment). We can’t save the world, but we can change the world.
Jesus never expected us to save the world. That was his job. Ironically all of us seem to think we should do it too. Instead he calls us to change the world. As Gary Haugen from International Justice Mission states, “God’s plan to change the world is us, and he doesn’t have a backup plan.”
Early in his ministry recorded in Luke, Jesus has just finished informing the crown to, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. He says this is a summary of all the commandments God gives us. Perplexed, someone in the crowd asks a follow up question, “Who is my neighbor?” “Surely Jesus doesn’t mean Romans, Samaritans, Gentiles, prostitutes, criminals, and all those other folks,” the man is likely thinking. Jesus answers with a story of a man who was beaten and robbed. The religious passed by him on the road as he lay injured and dying. Those who should have been his friends passed by him too.
A Samaritan however, a person in harsh feud with the Jewish people, not welcome in the crown Jesus was speaking to, picked up the man, brought him to a hotel, fixed him up, paid for his lodging, paid for his food, and came back later to settle the bill of the man’s other expenses. Jesus then asked the man a question, “who was the man’s neighbor?” Not being able to bring himself to say Samaritan, the man simply said, “the one who showed mercy to him.” Jesus then told those around him to go and do likewise.
The Samaritan didn’t save the world. He didn’t even save a town. He didn’t end a hunger crisis. He didn’t build a school single handedly. He didn’t irradiate terrible diseases. He helped one man. He did what he could.
Isn’t that the true call to action? It isn’t, “save the world,” but,“ do what you can.” I know a man running across the country to give clean water to 30,000 people for life, I know a elementary aged child who is bringing the change he found in his house this week to our church this week so it can go help those in need. Who loves their neighbor? They both do. They are doing what they can. They are doing likewise.