In my review of Ken Wytsma‘s book Pursuing Justice, I talk about how after a zealous start of caring about social justice issues, I went through a period of burnout. Burnout that was due to the overwhelming number of different types of horrible things in the world, the overwhelming reach each of these issues had, and the overwhelming severity of evil each of those bad things represented. This then joined with the feeling that the little I could do wasn’t going to make much of a difference led to despair, which led to paralysis. So after burning up a lot of fuel, raising a small amount of money, and still having every single social justice issue out there as strong as ever, I had to stop.
Consider this ad in the recent edition of Relevant Magazine: ALL of me to…eradicate slavery, stop human trafficking…
I’m not trying to be cynical here, and I do understand the heart behind this ad and the good intentions, but we have to realize what this is actually communicating at face value. I am going to eradicate all of slavery and completely stop all of human trafficking??? Where did I get these God-like powers from all of a sudden? Powers that Jesus didn’t even have (or at least didn’t use) when he walked the earth.
Taking these goals on as a personal mission statement for life will lead a person to only one end: guilt, burnout, despair, and paralysis. Failure.
We cannot change the entire world. We will fail.
But whoever said that was our job?????
We need to realize it is not our job to change the entire world and rid it of all sin and evil. That is Jesus’ job and it will never truly be accomplished until he returns.
Micah Bournes says this so well at the end of his “Sure Win” poem from his Man Without a Name album. It’s not in the lyrics of the poem itself (which you can view at the end of this post), but he speaks these words at the end of the album track, following the poem: And I think it’s important that as believers…as we work for justice…that we remember our aim…our aim is not to put an end to all darkness, the Lord Christ Jesus himself will do that one day, but our aim is to be a light in the darkness. And to let people who are hurting and who are in pain know that God is real and he loves them…when our aim is to love people our efforts cannot fail…
It’s the difference between being in a pitch black cave and trying to transform the entire cave into a beacon of light versus being in a pitch black cave and steadily and faithfully holding our one lit candle. One of these is overwhelming and impossible. The other will change the world.
Have you realized you don’t have to change the whole world to change the world? If you help someone, you’ve changed their world, and that is definitely changing the world. My review of Pursing Justice highlights how Ken does a great job of showing this in his book. He also writes on this topic specifically in this blog post. A great quote from Ken in this article is: Although we cannot fix the world, we can certainly change it.
I would take this a step further even and say that no matter what we do, we are changing the world one way or another. We are either changing it for good, or we are changing it for evil. By doing nothing, we are changing the world for evil by continuing to let people die lonely and needlessly. By doing something, we are changing the world by showing that people still care about people the way God cares about people. We are changing world and after world after world every time we show this type of love to someone.
In conclusion, I’m reminded of the first World Relief conference I attended back in 2008. Each area of the globe that World Relief works in was highlighted throughout the conference. Scott Arbeiter, lead pastor at Elmbrook Church and chairman of World Relief’s Board of Directors, asked me how I was feeling about the conference. I told him it was inspiring and life-changing, but also quite overwhelming. So many needs. What could a pastor of such a small church actually accomplish? Scott shared Jesus’ words from Matthew 25:40 to me:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for ONE of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
“Our aim is not to put an end to all darkness, the Lord Christ Jesus himself will do that one day, but our aim is to be a light in the darkness”. –Micah Bournes.
I can do that.
And so can you.
- Ep. 35: Interview with Kevin DeVries on going from a millionaire to homeless, finding wholeness from brokenness + dying for 15 minutes and seeing the Risen Christ - September 18, 2020
- All Lives Matter vs. Black Lives Matter - September 11, 2020
- Ep. 34: Interview with Todd A. Wilson on a biblical theology for sex, marriage, and LGBTQ+ issues - August 25, 2020