These days it’s in vogue to change the world. It’s what we aspire to, dream about, and obsess over. Almost to the point of despair: I am 22 and I haven’t started a global campaign to eradicate injustice and apathy. Funded by Kickstarter, of course. My life is over.
Lest you think these are only the rants of a middle age matron who can barely change the sheets, let me share with you from whence these musing sprang.
Last week I heard a young entrepreneur who had, in fact successfully started a global non-profit, address over 1,000 college students about some of the myths of their generation. After poking fun at some “myths” such as meeting the perfect spouse at the perfect Christian college, she hit them square between the eyes.
“You aren’t going to change the world. Now, let’s pray.”
Whoa. Not exactly the mantra that has been on the lips of every twenty-something since Zach Hunter wrote “Be the Change” (a book which I have read and wholeheartedly recommend, by the way).
Her declaration that God has called us first to a life of obedience and faithfulness was refreshing. It doesn’t let us off the hook to be God’s ambassadors in a world that needs love and mercy, but it is refreshing in way that frees us to remember this: God is the one who directs the outcome of our life.
The fact that the speaker was leading a successful organization impacting others was a result of her obedience, not her charismatic personality or cleverly laid out strategic plan for maximizing outcomes. She simply did one thing first, then the next, then the next, leaning on God’s guidance along. She had no aspirations to change the world. She just asked God what she should do with what she had in front of her: her skills, her opportunities, and her willingness.
We are called to obedience and faithfulness, not grand standing and chasing the latest new thing. That’s really hard because the daily grind is well, a grind. Some days you have to work really hard to not repay evil for evil against those who spitefully use you; some days require extreme patience with exasperating people; some days you need abundant grace to overlook an offense or hurt.
The inherently quiet nature of obedience and faithfulness does not draw attention to itself the way an “I gonna change the world!” rally cry does. We often want the world-changing results without the prerequisite steps of faithfulness and obedience. Think about the movers and shakers in the Bible: David, Moses, Miriam, Paul. They weren’t effectual in their generations until they went through some faith building tests and trials of obedience. Even our Lord submitted in obedience to the Father’s will in Gethsemane. It’s not that wanting to do something meaningful with our lives and infuse beauty and grace in the world is at odds with the Gospel. Hardly: the Gospel is all about changing a broken world.
But we forget one crucial reality.
God is the only one who can change the world. In fact, He already has. Through Christ He has shifted the paradigm from a sin-cursed world to a hope-filled reality, reconciled sinners to Himself, and ushered in a new covenant Kingdom. It is not within our power to effect any change: it’s only by abiding in Him that we are fruitful and productive. His story is the best story we could ever hope to be a part of. Using our gifts and talents to advance the work of God’s kingdom is the best guarantee that we will leave a meaningful footprint in this world.
Maybe God will call you to something on a big scale, like the Christine Caines of the world. If He does, do it in confidence that He will equip you like He equipped her to lead the A21 Campaign, a ministry that works against the scourge of human trafficking. Maybe He will call you to live a life outside the spotlight as a teacher, a mother, an engineer, a mechanic, a scientist, an executive, bringing change in your own circles of influence. Do it faithfully knowing that in God’s economy we are all essential to His redemptive work in the world.
He who is faithful in little is faithful in much.
Scrollbar Image: Judy/Creative Commons