There are a lot of things going wrong in our world. Politics seems a dangerous place filled with people whose motivations can never be fully trusted. Most countries around the world seem to have a powder keg of social problems buried just beneath the surface, ready to explode at any moment. Our workplaces are being taken over by enormous corporations who tirelessly seek to improve the bottom line at the cost of health, care, and human decency. Our society feels divided against neighbors and families and coworkers. Is there truth? Would we ever agree what truth is? Can we even dare to have a conversation about the depth of problems? What is there to do about it anyway? Is all hope lost? As someone near to me just said, all there is to do is "wait for Jesus to come back". Or as a coworker recently put it, "we are all on our own now. No one will help you, no one cares about you, you are a pawn. Take care of yourself because nothing is going to change".
Is it alright to sit on the sideline and hope someone better, someone smarter, someone full of wisdom will step in and make everything right? Do we get to check out of this world, this problematic society and smugly and silently smile while the whole world seems to descend into chaos? Do we, in our own minds, harbor a prideful comprehension that we have the answers to all the world problems, but the rest of the world is too stupid or evil to understand it so we will just keep quiet while everything around us unravels?
Jesus didn't abandon the broken world to destruction and decay. He "came to seek and to save that which was lost" - Luke 19:10. In fact, the Bible tells us He left His place in heaven to "become flesh and dwelt among us" - John 1:14. He slugged it out down here in this messy world, in a desert, with poor people, rich people, politicians, military figures, and religious hypocrites. More to the point, He gave His life for the salvation of the world. I don't think He ever meant for His followers to wash their hands of this world, shut their door, and wait quietly for His return. If we mean to follow in His Way, then the path leads us right into the middle of the problems we see. We are meant to lay our lives down in the knowledge that faith, hope, and love will restore our world to what it was meant to be.
"The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing." So what do we do? Many of us feel emotionally and mentally crushed by the onslaught of wars, natural disasters, impending economic disaster, and the fragility of democracy. These problems are too big. Most of us do not exert influence in these powerful circles of leadership. But we do have power. I believe that this is where the followers of the Jeus Way have hope. We know this crazy idea that if we stop living for ourselves and instead lay our lives down and let faith and hope guide us, love wins.
We do not have to be slaves to fear. There is a way. There is a way to make communities safer, stop racism, end the oppression of women, improve our clinical workspace, and even work towards peace. It's simple and yet the hardest thing any of us can aspire to do. Speak truth AND love. Sit down with your fellow man and love them. Hear their stories, learn their names, understand their values. And when it is necessary, fiercely defend the poor and the vulnerable, and fight the injustice we see.
I reject the cynical religious answer that all is lost and only the return of Jesus will make it better. I also reject the fatalist secularist that believes self preservation at any cost is the only answer. Checking out isn't an option. We are responsible to ourselves, our families, our communities, and if we claim to know Jesus - God Himself. Lean in.
How to Be a Person - Shane Koyczan
"Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ."
2 Peter 1:5-8