It was a busy hot summer day that had worn my soul out to the inner most parts of my being. But yet there was something so rejuvenating about it. Many new faces had showed up longing to get a glimpse of what we do on the inner city.
You know, it’s exhilarating having others step into your area of passion to see. And this day was a day of seeing. It was a day when many realized it’s easier to sit and talk about changing a world, than it is to go and change a world.
“Go into the world. Go everywhere and announce the Message of God’s good news to one and all.” (Mark 16:15 MSG) When Jesus spoke these words I don’t think he meant for us to just go hang with and tell of His goodness and grace to those who live in similar neighborhoods, bathe every day, and are high school graduates. I really don’t!
Our friends and those similar to us do need to know of Jesus and His indescribable grace. But what about the world!
The world different from us. The world that’s overlooked and marginalized by society. That world. What if Jesus meant for us to go there?
When I was younger I would read Jesus’s words and it sounded so amazing. I longed for Him to call me “into the world.” And I knew surely that meant a calling to go to Africa, Greece, or even India would come. It was right there, Jesus was commanding me to go into the world. And for some skewed twisted up reason, I figured that must mean the other side of the world.
My Americanized-suburban-spoiled-by-excess brain continually told me that following Jesus and sharing His love with others should be something that is fun, “sexy”, and the in-thing-to-do. I’d lift up prayers, “Jesus, I’m ready. Just call me out to the other side of the world and I’ll say yes. I’ll follow you!”
And I meant every word prayed up. I was ready to book my airfare, pack my Texas-sized luggage and go. And all I can say is thank heavens Jesus is Jesus and he didn’t answer that prayer then.
What I realize now is that I was more in love with the idea of changing the world than really changing myself, getting out of my comfort zone, becoming dirty and changing the world. (read this book, Overrated: Are We More in Love with the Idea of Changing the World Than Actually Changing the World?)
Changing the world.
This day as smiling faces showed up to help, I gave tours of our building and told of what we do. Many were overwhelmed of the vastness of our big building, the heat, dust, mold, and rodent tracks (if you know what I mean).
We loaded up our big truck to head into the community. I was a hot mess. I’m talking like sweat rolling down your face mess. We worked as I talked, and after wiping the sweat from my face for the 37th time and thinking I don’t belong here, I just giggled. It was an awkward moment that needed an explanation, “You know, I always thought God would call me to a hot messy place like Africa. I just didn’t realize my little Africa was only seven miles from my home.”
The truth is changing a world never looks how we imagine. We long to serve in other places, but our “Africa” is right in front of us. I’m reminded of Mother Teresa’s quote,
“You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.”
We all want to be difference makers, but the fact is we have to be willing to be different first. Many long for a call to serve outside their comfort zone in another country, but let’s be different and serve those within our eyes glance that are forgotten and longing to be loved. The invisible, down-on-their-luck, and undesired right in front of us.
Yes, I was one of those who thought changing the world meant I had to go other places. But let’s you and I be different. Let’s serve those closest to us as if we were in Africa or Calcutta, India.
Let’s notice the child who just went back to school without supplies or shoes and get them some.
Let’s give a $5 fast-food gift card to the stranger standing at the corner who needs a meal.
Let’s take a meal to a family who is struggling.
Let’s step out of our AC and deliver a cold bottle for water to the homeless man in need.
Let’s get off our phones, notice those around us in stores, schools, and neighborhoods and offer encouragement as needed.
Oh friend, we don’t need to travel to the other side of the world to make a difference. No, we can do it right where we are! How will you change the world this week?