29 Jan Concern & Responsibility in a Broken World
There are things in this life that just don’t feel right. Sometimes it’s small, and other times the injustices of this world are glaringly obvious.
Children who are abused by those meant to protect them. Victims of war and natural disasters. Corruption. Hunger. Death. We can’t help but look around and ask, “What is wrong with this world?”
And yet, there is hope. The very fact that injustice and suffering feels out of place to us is evidence of a better, more perfect reality. As His image-bearers, God has put eternity in our hearts. Inherently, believers and non believers alike know there’s an ideal reality that we’re longing for. Governments give aid to end human suffering. Celebrities campaign against child hunger. Activists fight for equal rights.
When the injustices we see around us are placed within the narrative of Scripture, we get to see how the story ends. From start to finish, the Bible agrees that all is not right in this world. God’s intent when He created the world was not for human suffering but rather for our flourishing. Through Christ’s life and death, the Father affirms His original intent and demonstrates His commitment to our redemption. This redemption points to a future and ultimate restoration of His creation. He is “making all things new” (Revelation 21:5).
When our daily lives are filled with the justice and hospitality of our Lord, we point to a greater, more final reality.
Until then, we are God’s agents in the world. When our daily lives are filled with the justice and hospitality of our Lord, we point to a greater, more final reality. We reflect God’s character to a watching world, and we affirm the feeling within each of us that something just isn’t quite right.
But the suffering and injustice around us is immeasurable. Where do you begin? What does it mean for you to own the cause of justice?
The Wrong Response
We can mistakenly respond to the brokenness of this world in two ways. Some will be tempted to ignore these ideas and be passive towards our world. Others will be so committed to so many causes and needs that they will inadvertently render themselves ineffective in all of them. Both responses are selfish in nature.
When we are culturally passive, we are fearful to engage, and we desire to maintain the status quo of our lives. We are comfortable and self-protective. There is risk and sacrifice that comes with truly engaging. For others to benefit, we must give of ourselves—our time, our money, our relational energy. But we are addicted to the feeling that our lives are in our control, and we are slow to step into the mess and baggage of others’ lives.
Alternatively, we can feel a personal responsibility for every issue in the world today, frantically moving from one to another. We overestimate our personal ability to impact change, and we spread ourselves too thin. We fail to recognize that poverty and injustice have existed since the beginning of time, and we ignore the sovereignty and lordship of Jesus.
We fail to recognize that poverty and injustice have existed since the beginning of time, and we ignore the sovereignty and lordship of Jesus.
We can care and pray about many of the injustices, crises and problems in the world today, but we must acknowledge that we cannot solve every issue.
Instead, we must become clear on where we are responsible for making disciples. The idea is not to find a bunch of new activities to fill up your time, it’s about actually living with intentionality in the activities and places where you already are.
Paul puts it this way, “Each of you should continue to live in whatever situation the Lord has placed you, and remain as you were when God first called you.” (1 Corinthians 7:17) God is honored when we live with gospel intentionality wherever we are. Lives rooted in Christ and His work allow us to carry light and hope into situations that are otherwise devoid of this truth.
What should I be concerned about?
As followers of Jesus, we should be concerned about injustice—hunger, trafficking, third-world economies, abuse, orphans, poverty, disease, refugees. The pain and suffering surrounding these injustices remind us that the world we live in is fallen, broken, and in need of a Savior.
We can stay informed, aware, and prayerful about a variety of issues; however, we each of these issues are multi-faceted and multi-generational. They have existed for centuries, and there are no easy answers to any.
Consider ways you can stay connected and aware of the events going on in the world around us. Read the newspaper or subscribe to a news app. Organizations like Operation World provide prayer guides and regular reminders about the needs that exist in countries around the world. Be concerned but not consumed.
What am I responsible for?
We do have a responsibility to move on some of these issues. Both individually and as a church, we can identify our God-given strengths and passions, couple them with the contexts and relationships God is placing before us, and decide where we are responsible. The church is responsible for owning the cause of the poor and the vulnerable.
Consider your calling (to engage the brokenness around us), and evaluate where He has you (your season) and what He has gifted you to do (your individuality).
How do your strengths and your passions address needs in our community? You don’t need to do it all. Rather, strategically say “no” to good things so that you can make significant contributions to the the areas that match both your individuality and your season.
What has God put in front of you? Where you live, work, exercise, play , the schools your children attend—all of these places present opportunities. You have responsibility to be a light in these situations. Sharing your lives, your joys, and struggles with those around you can open the door for others to know the truth.
Open your home to neighbors. Go to lunch with co-workers instead of eating at your desk. Coach your son’s little league team instead of sitting in the bleachers. And as you prayerfully move towards the people God has put in front of you, you will find opportunities to speak and act in ways that demonstrate who God is.
If the hungry, the stranger, the naked, and the prisoner, who Jesus clearly tells us to serve,are not some of the ones whom we interact with and care for regularly,perhaps, we are in the wrong places. Maybe we need to intentionally seek out these people, or maybe we need to simply open our eyes and look around.
Megan is spending her 20’s doing as much travel as her job at Grace Church will allow. She is incapable of letting a day go by without a physical challenge, is terrified of being stuck in an airport without a good book, and holds a particular bitterness towards hikes that don’t lead to waterfalls. Megan attends our Downtown campus.