How Can We Truly Make a Difference in This World?
Jesus’ message to all of us, young and old, is quite clear: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34, NIV2) This crucial message resounds in every book and letter of the New Testament.
Reality though, among those who claim to follow Jesus, is quite different from what Jesus is expecting from us. Many are like what one of my brothers told me one day: “I have no problems loving Jesus, but I do have a hard time loving others!” You may find yourself in these same shoes!
The task of loving seems so overwhelming to many of us. How can we even make a difference? With so much hurt and pain in this world, where do we even start?
I could ask the same question while teaching a group of teenagers. It is not until I experience helping just one of them, however, that I began to realize the impact of my actions. Eyes light up and smiles appear seemingly out of nowhere. This is a reward in itself! It motivates me personally to help every one of them!
Interestingly, when Jesus finally returns for His followers, there is no mention anywhere in the Bible of Jesus questioning us about our theology, which is the one item that separates us so distinctively from one another. He will, however, ask us how we made a difference in the lives of the less privileged!
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” (Matthew 25:35-36, NIV2)
In all reality, it is impossible to love God without loving one another. If we truly love God, our love for Him will be manifested in the love we bestow on others! “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.'” (Matthew 25:40, NIV2)
When Victor Hugo went to Mont Saint-Michel, he noticed the fast rising tides. They are quite unusual as compared to the tides along the rest of the coastlines in France! Tides in Mont Saint-Michel can rise up to 14 meters. In addition, the sea ebbs 20 kms away from the coast, and once the tide rises, it is likened by Victor Hugo to a galloping horse, for the speed of the currents can exceed 1 meter per second!
Genuine love is even faster than a galloping horse. It doesn’t think of itself, it only thinks of helping, encouraging and lifting up. Once caught up in it, we can’t stop from loving those around us in the same way Jesus did. It’s that catchy! Many Christians around the world are caught up in it already, and they sure are making a difference!
Wait a minute! Does this mean we are not saved by grace, but by works? Absolutely not! Works simply confirm where our allegiance lies! “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:12, NIV2) (See also Eph 2:8-10 where it clearly indicates that good works flow from grace. It’s not our works that saves us, but God’s grace!)
If we truly want to make a difference in this world, we need to genuinely love like Jesus did. The early Christians quickly caught on to this. They truly loved each other! “There were no needy persons among them.” (Acts 4:34a, NIV2)
Over time, however, we have somehow lost this notion, and love now seems to be nothing more than a hieroglyphic from the past. All you have to do is to search online about how the world views Christians to find out that many, if not most of them, see us as judgmental, hypocritical and anti-gay! Isn’t that how the Pharisees and Sadducees were viewed in Jesus’ times?
Did we even know that we, as Christians, have the power to completely eradicate extreme poverty in the world? According to several online resources, the Christians in North America have a total annual income of $5.2 trillion! And we make just 5% of the total Christian population in the world!
Imagine if we did the unthinkable (like Jesus did!) and set aside just 1 % of our yearly income to the cause of the really poor. Are we even aware what it would mean to those who are really poor? 52 billion dollars would be set aside! That would be more than enough to lift the poorest of the poor, which includes one billion of people in this world, out of extreme poverty! 1 %! And imagine if we decided instead to put 2% aside or even 3%! Many of world’s woes would be complete eradicated! Wouldn’t we be the galloping horse that brings real hope to the world? It’s only then that “everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35, NIV2)
Do we truly want to make a difference? Lack of money is not really the reason why we do not help! Compare these 52 billion dollars to the $705 billion spend yearly in North America on entertainment!
Either God’s grace is so real to us that it will be manifested in our love towards others…or…is this even possible?…we don’t not know God at all!