It seems the whole world is falling apart around us these days. Silencing the news feels like a much-needed luxury amid weekly horror inflicted by everything from teen heroine overdoses, to the marketing of aborted baby parts, to raucous anti-police protests (and murders), to jihadist terrorism. Those of us who are parents of minor children can’t help but feel a constant underlying level of tension as we send them out into the world. Safety threatens to elude us every single day, no matter where we are on the planet.
We can feel rather helpless and powerless to make a positive influence in the world around us when all we see is desperation and darkness. Where do we start? How can we make a difference in our world?
Times like these ought to remind all of us that our only hope lies far beyond this world. Fixing our eyes heavenward and walking in obedience to the One who truly can do something about such turmoil is essential. Jesus calls us each to begin right where we are.
I love watching the example of other Jesus-lovers who have gone before me, those who have done well at following hard after him. One of my favorites remains Mother Teresa of Calcutta. I have read biographies of her over the years and followed the loving humility of her work, finding encouragement in her persistent faithfulness in spite of seemingly insurmountable adversity.
Mother Teresa was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize back in 1979. A quote from that time has been attributed to her. Supposedly, when she was asked how to promote world peace she replied,
Go home and love your family.
Such a suggestion seems stunningly simple, yet so hard to do. The magnificent truth of it is almost painful. How often do each of us snap at a spouse or child, take our family members for granted, or hold generational grudges? The genesis of peace and its viral capacity lays in each human heart. How we treat those within our own homes, our extended families, our neighbors, our communities has the capacity to build up or the capacity to tear down.
The Apostle Paul shared an admonition similar to her wisdom long before Mother Teresa was ever on the scene.
Take care of widows who are destitute. If a widow has family members to take care of her, let them learn that religion begins at their own doorstep and that they should pay back with gratitude some of what they have received. This pleases God immensely.… Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That’s worse than refusing to believe in the first place. (1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8, MSG)
Today, we hear the expression, “Charity begins at home,” too often used to excuse ourselves from wider benevolence. However, God’s word and the faithful example of His saints belies that sort of negligence. Rather, personal lovingkindness should be at the epicenter of all restoration in this broken world. In a today’s toxicity where so much hatred fractures people into opposing groups, beliefs, sexual identity, and races, loving people well right where we are provides a hopeful breath of fresh air. Even when we perceive ourselves to be offended or wronged, God commands,
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. (Romans 12:17, NIV)
Meditate on that a bit. Find a quiet place, away from media. Put away your smart phone and laptop. Think on the One from whom all goodness flows. In an era where we are quick to level one other on social media, self-control, humility, and love are small things with huge impact. Deciding not to swipe back with nasty hashtags and vitriol holds far more power than behaving like every other worldly loose cannon. No, it is not a daisy-wearing, Pollyanna worldview to recommend winning our opponents over with love. It is controlled power — magnificent meekness — that wields an unusual influence in today’s culture. And it is God-prescribed!
Take courage today! You may not feel like you can do much to help bring about peace in this wicked world, but God tells you otherwise. “Go home and love your family.” Start with letting Him do surgery on your own toxic heart, and you will change the world around you.
All of this world conflict certainly isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I dreamed of my future as a young woman. Still, God’s Light shines brightest in the darkest of places. I’m so thankful that He holds a brighter tomorrow than any of us could ever ask, think or imagine.