If We Can’t Change the World, Let’s Change Ourselves

Talk is cheap.

As we all know, there’s plenty of talk going on. In this fascinating information age, one has access to no small amount of opinion–informed or otherwise–on any number of hot-button issues. And the irony is not lost on me.

I am about to add mine to the heap.

A friend and I were talking the other day and he shared that one of the things he doesn’t like about his generation (which I am on the front end of, he the tail end), was the propensity to Tweet, blog, and otherwise opine about issues but rarely do anything tangible to engage the issue itself.

He has a good point, illustrated well by the benign Starbucks cup controversy and the malignant presence of crisis in our global community.

These are complex issues (well, the ISIS/West conflict is…Starbucks not so much). There are no simple fixes, and anyone who thinks there is doesn’t grasp the issues at all. The debate is a product of our democracy, and even if you hate the debate you have to appreciate that we can have it.

Christians have the advantage of a simpler path. It’s not easy, I’ll grant you that. But it is simple. A [different] good friend wrote recently about how obvious the believer’s response should be. I’ll quote my favorite paragraph here, with a link to check out his whole blog if you’d like.

“[This crisis] begs the question: how should this impact the way you view and treat your enemies? Lets get more specific: How should this impact the way you view and treat Syrian refugees and any terrorists who might be in their midst? The answer really isn’t all that complicated. Because as citizens of the Kingdom of God who have been radically transformed by the good news of the Gospel, we are supposed to be defined by the Kingdom of God. We are called to be crazy, risk-taking, self-sacrificial, merciful, gracious, generous, forgiving people who value love, grace, mercy, the name of Jesus and the word of the Gospel over safety, comfort, and protection. I understand that what is best and safest for America as a nation might be to keep her guard up, be careful, saying “no” to countless innocent refugees just to make sure she protects herself. That’s an understandable kingdom of this world thought process. But Christian, your Kingdom is not of this world. What is best for a kingdom of this world is not always what’s best for Jesus’ Kingdom and what is best for the cause of Jesus’ Kingdom quite often will be the opposite of what is best for the cause of any kingdom of this world. If you’re ever in a position where you have to choose between advocating for what is best for any kingdom of this world and what is best for the Kingdom of Jesus, I really don’t think I should have to tell you which one to advocate for.” Brandon Lynn, Jesus’ Kingdom > Your Safety

 

Kurdish refugee boy from the Syrian town of Kobani holds onto a fence that surrounds a refugee camp in the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province...A Kurdish refugee boy from the Syrian town of Kobani holds onto a fence that surrounds a refugee camp in the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province November 3, 2014.  REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis (TURKEY - Tags: TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY CONFLICT POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis 

 

I think my two friends are correct. If the lack of action is indicative of a society that likes to talk and not act, and if the priority of a Christ follower is to behave not like a fearful citizen of this world, but as confident victor in the Kingdom of our God, then I’d like to propose one path to wading our way out of the current crisis.

Let’s stop typing about them and actually meet a Muslim. 

Let’s cease debating about people not like us and start doing life with people not like us instead.

Let’s stop taking our cues from cable news channels and start taking our cues from the Lord we profess to follow.

Let’s examine our loyalties and, if they are found to be divided, let’s repent of that and pledge our allegiance to the Kingdom of God.

Let’s research the articles we read to ensure they are telling the truth. I saw one with a picture claiming “refugees” had JUST LANDED IN AMERICA! The article led you to believe the pictured men all had bombs hidden in their overcoats. A quick image search revealed the photo was taken five years ago in the Middle East. The men weren’t refugees at all, and they weren’t in the United States. It was sensationalized click bait…and it was completely false.

Are there terrorists in the U.S.? I’m sure there are. But the amount of fear-mongering going on right now should not cause the believer angst. “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18)

My love isn’t perfect yet, but I want it to be.

I told you about my first friend not liking how his generation handles these sorts of cultural dust-ups. I didn’t tell you that we had that conversation on the way back from buying some chairs off of Craigslist. The address took us to a little strip mall and a Philly Cheese Steak & Burger restaurant. There we met Abbas and Juma, who we assume own the shop. They are from Pakistan, but they’ve been in the states 25 years. They have two stores. One’s busy, the other is slow. They were eager to hear of our lives, our families, even our church work. Juma said we had “peaceful faces.” We have ample theological disagreements, for sure. But Abbas and I shook hands and we left with them asking for our prayers.

What are we going to do about ISIS?!? I don’t know. But I can pray for Juma.

What are we going to do about the refugee crisis!?! I don’t know. But I can visit some next week and serve them Thanksgiving dinner.

Can this sort of thing happen in America? Of course. It already has. It will probably happen again. We should do all we can to stop it.

Like I said, these are complicated problems. They don’t have easy fixes. But for the Christian, I know this much — it’s time to turn off the news, get off the internet, and go meet someone not like you. Buy a philly cheese steak. Instead of “liking” a blog, love someone the internet tells you that you should fear. Instead of sharing an explosive Facebook post, share a plate of cookies with someone the politicians tells you to avoid. Ring your neighbor’s doorbell. Introduce yourself. You probably won’t change the whole world by doing so, but you may change the way you view the world.

In the end, that may be the more noble pursuit.

3 comments

  1. It seems like America has been on a decline for many years now and it started when america tried getting their noses into countries business. The only outcome from this is enraged countries that are now looking for revenge on the U.S. What many people didn’t know is that U.S. used to be partners with Bin laden when Russia Began to invade Afghanistan. Then America disobeyed Bin laden’s rule to not send troops into his birthplace Saudi Arabia. This destroyed the partnership and then Osama start hijacking planes and killing american people.
    America needs to focus on fixing themselves. If we fix our problems it could inspire the world to also fix themselves. If all of America’s problems were gone it would start to effect other countries and we would slowly start to form a better world where there is no terrorism and there is no discrimination to skin color or religion. The truth is that we need to fix our own problems before we can be the world’s hero.

  2. Great article thanks for the words of wisdom!
    These days very few people take real action to make a difference. It has become easier for us to share our opinions via the internet like you said. Do these opinions go unnoticed? While scrolling through Facebook, I’m hesitant as to what I comment on. Will my comments, my opinions, remain unnoticed? Will they be lost in the sea of comments from others?

    Your solution to such an issue like the Syrian refugee crisis is inspirational. One action we can all take to further our understanding of the issue is to speak with them directly. Thanks!

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