How Does Everything Change?

A friend (let’s call him “Wade”) wrote me this in reply to my recent post on this book I’ve been reading. I told him that I knew he was right in nearly every sentence.

I’m posting this (with his permission) because it speaks to something I’ve been feeling a lot lately: We’ve got to have more positive voices speaking in our ears. Next step: Mine needs to be a more positive voice.

People of my age and younger are professional cynics. We are gifted criticall thinkers, with the emphasis on “critical”. We can raise reasonable doubt about very reasonable things with no effort at all. Webs of the negative are quickly spun, and small people (like me) who could be actively creating small waves for the positive instead just get stuck.

Adding to the mess is the simple fact that deconstruction is fun! Who doesn’t prefer the sledgehammer-knocking-down-walls role to the careful and thoughtful work of constructing something new.

The trouble is that constructing something new is what’s needed.

And that’s why I’m grateful to have voices like “Wade” speaking to me.

In my life I have run into these bigger than one man ideas a few times over the years. My tendency, and I think the tendency for most people, is to encounter it, see the immensity of it, and feel immediately overwhelmed and a bit helpless. For some reason we think that we have to come up with some grand idea that is well thought out and pretty much guaranteed to work before we will do anything. And of course this very rarely happens. So we give up and say, “there’s nothing I can do”. We rationalize over time so that we can live with this idea that it is wrong, but somehow ok. Add to that the fact that we are immersed in the system and so continually bombarded with messages contrary to what we are called to what we know deep down is right.

I took a political science class on the environment in university. It was a very good class, looking at the state of the environment and politics relationship with that. It was one of the first times that I was forced to reckon with an issue that I could easily see was important, broken, affecting many people and very complex. I enjoyed learning about it, but after not too long I felt weighed down and paralyzed in what I could do to fix this. Pretty soon I was justifying my inaction with things like, ” God is in control”, “It’s all going to be destroyed anyway”, “This has to happen for Christ to come back”, etc…

What happened with civil rights in the south? A woman was tired of being pushed down, and refused to give in. Some people saw and heard this and it gave them hope. They realized they could do something as well, even if it was small to stand up for what they believed and try to stop the opression. Pretty soon there are lots of people doing this and change starts to happen. I realize this is a simplification, but it gives me hope. Hope that there is another way. Maybe I don’t know what that way will look like in the end, but I know something I can do right now that will move away from the current way.

If places like Wal-Mart engage in labour practices that are destructive- yes Jay I heard the intro to your sermon where you saw an ad in that store 😉 – I can stop shopping there. If I don’t like the culture I’m in that tells me over and over again that success and my happiness are dependent on things, money, and security, I can look for people who are not “successful”, either by choice or by circumstances. Small things, but everything starts small. Then look and pray for the next step.

I believe the Spirit that indwells us pushes us in this direction, we just have to learn to pay attention. And to take a step.

1 thought on “How Does Everything Change?

  1. i think “wade” is bang on when he said “Small things, but everything starts small. Then look and pray for the next step.
    I believe the Spirit that indwells us pushes us in this direction, we just have to learn to pay attention. And to take a step.”

    it’s all about obeying really!

    first of all – when discussing sin in light of our role in “changing the world” i think we can start with the measures by which we, as humans rank our sin – did it hurt me? did it hurt someone else? was there any long term effects? – then, on a scale from 1 to 10 where 10=hellfire, we have lying, gossiping, stealing, idolatry, adultery, murder…you know how it goes – but what was it that plummetted the human race into sin in the first place? Adam and Eve ate an apple – not inherently evil, but it was a direct contradiction to the Word they were given from God.

    God gives us a Word/instruction if you will – a leading by the Holy Spirit. But how often is this small voice quenched by the multitude of other voices we’re so “privy” too in our culture?

    i’m going somewhere will all of this, i promise.

    have you ever heard the song Hosanna by Brooke Fraser? There’s a line in it that says “Break my heart for what breaks Yours”. For the past few months, this has really been my prayer. As i was praying this, God started revealing to me areas and things in my life that He wanted me to release. Surely, He must have misheard me. These things, they are not corrupt, they were not inherently evil, it wasn’t hurting me or anybody i knew, but He kept bringing it up. So I said Lord, I want to see what you see, i want to love what you love.
    And again, He kept bringing to my attention what he was asking me to release. So after much wrestling and trying to reason away that “voice”, i obeyed it. 2 days later, i was presented with the opportunity to sponsor a child in Africa and was able to act because the release of the first thing provided me the step to the next.

    our journey will always require us to take one step at a time. i think that God chooses not to reveal to us the whole journey, because he doesn’t want us walking this life in our own strenght but in His.

    while i was feeling good for obeying, i still felt like my single sponsorship wasn’t even going to make a dent in the issue of poverty in the world. then God quickened this verse to my attention. and we’ve all heard it hundreds of times.

    Matthew 25:35-40
    35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’
    37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

    this time it was a single word in verse 40 that struck me. inasmuch as you did it to ONE of the least of these…

    if we would give ear to His voice and let it become more familar to us than anything in this world, we can’t really go wrong. Do we, in our own strength and with our finite minds try to come up with all the ways in which WE will solve the problem of poverty or do we trust the living God, the creator, who knows every detail of every human life to just show us the next step as we walk in obedience.

    maybe none of this had anything to do with what you were talking about, but nevertheless, that’s my piece.

Leave a Reply