In a recent conversation with a friend of mine, he looked up at me and casually asked, “What injustices are you passionate about fighting?”
Suddenly, I felt put on the spot. What injustices am I passionate about fighting? Living in the Bay Area, I am well aware of the rise of human trafficking just in my city, let alone around the world. Being from Los Angeles, I have seen the effects of gang life on modern day youth. Having been a child of abuse, I know firsthand that there is more abuse happening behind closed doors than the world may realize. And keeping up with current events has taught me about the women and children being raped and tortured in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the influx of child immigrants being sent to the U.S. from Central America, the thousands of civilians being killed over the Israel/Palestine Conflict, and the hundreds of millions of people starving all across the globe.
Needless to say, there is a great need for social justice and activism in today’s world. But what can one little person do to make a difference?
Changing the world doesn’t always look like we might expect, and it looks different depending on your unique gifts and passions, but here are a few things every world-changer does.
Examine Their Motives
Having a heart for reaching out to and changing the world is a wonderful and beautiful thing. After all, it is part of our calling as followers of Christ to seek justice. Isaiah 1:17 reads, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”
It is important for us to serve our brothers and sisters, to show love to our enemies, and to serve the poor, hungry and oppressed. But it is also important to ask ourselves why we’re doing what we’re doing. Is it to serve and obey God? Or is it to serve and obey our pride?
We may start out with the right motives, but our sinful nature can quickly take over, prompting us to do good not for the sake of those we’ll help, but rather to gain recognition, self-gratification and admiration for ourselves. Now don’t get me wrong; serving others can definitely feel good and gain attention, and neither of those are necessarily bad things. The danger lies in allowing those ends to be our driving force.
Being a world-changer is not just restricted to people who drop everything to move to another country or give their lives to founding a nonprofit. While there are indeed so many people in need across the globe, social justice has to start at the micro-level. That is, reaching out to the individual can be just as important as reaching out to the whole.
In Luke 10, Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan, where one man shows love and compassion to another. The Samaritan’s actions towards this man are an example to all who come after him. The Lord tells us, “You go, and do likewise.” For some of us, that means joining a reputable social justice nonprofit in hopes of reaching a larger group of people in a shorter amount of time. For others, it means becoming a missionary, serving God’s people in a hands-on way.
The world definitely needs ambitious people like this in order to get things done. But Romans 12 states that though one body, we each have different gifts to use in serving the Lord. If your gift is to touch a crowd of people all at once, then do so humbly. But if your gift is to touch the crowd by serving one individual at a time, do so with confidence that Christ is using you just as much but in different ways than He is using others.
Serving the individual can look like feeding a homeless person and directing him to the nearest shelter. It can look like paying the electric bill for a member of the community who isn’t able to pay it that month. It can look like fostering a child or mentoring youth in your area. Activism does not have just one face. It has many faces for many people who have many different gifts.
Join With Others
One person alone is not going to change or save the entire world. I take that back—only one person has saved the entire world, and His name is Jesus. While we are to strive every day to emulate Christ, we are not told to take it upon ourselves to try to save the world on our own. We are called to serve together—to love together.
Hebrews 10:24-25 reads, “And let us consider how to spur up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” If my gift is giving and yours is teaching, we will use our gifts together to serve the needy in this world. I will encourage you in your gifts, and you will encourage me in mine. That is loving together, and that is what will make the greatest difference.
We are called to be a community of believers, loving God together, serving God together and loving and serving his children together.
Do not be disheartened when prayer seems like the only way you can serve at a given time. For prayer is the best way to serve at any given time. James 5:16 tells us, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
We often forget how powerful prayer truly is, or we don’t notice it working because it is not working in the way we imagined. But prayer is the biggest factor in world change. In examining your motives, only prayer will reveal your heart’s true driving force. In serving at both the macro- and micro-level, only in prayer will you do so humbly, only boasting and having confidence in the Lord for the gifts He has bestowed upon you. In loving and serving as a community, only prayer will give you the patience to work as one body and the strength to encourage and spur up one another. It is prayer that transforms us, and only through prayer can we transform this world.