Friday, June 15, 2012

Scripture vs. Society: Action (charity, serving, missions, activism)

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone uses the phrase “taking action”, “making a difference”, or even "changing the world”? Picket fences coming to mind, Peace Corps, maybe even an after-school special? Sometimes being challenged to take action on a hot button issue can seem corny or pointless, maybe even impossible, but I assure you that doing something about the problems in the world are none of those things.
Nations have had activists since the beginning of time and it looks a bit different for everybody. Sometimes activism is a loud protest or putting pressure on the government. Other times it forms more quietly in the background with fundraisers or awareness.
From the late 1780’s to the time of his death in 1833, William Wilberforce tirelessly strived for the abolition of the slave trade (and slavery in general) in the British Empire by continually campaigning in parliament. His efforts paid off when he saw the slave trade abolished in 1807. Although he died shortly before slavery itself was abolished, Wilberforce and his successors activism left a lasting legacy that everyone can change something they feel is wrong.
During America’s Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, there were “sit-ins”. Black and white people alike would join each other in quiet (at least on their end) protests where they would sit in whites only restaurants and refused to move until they were either arrested or granted their protest. Whichever way they ended, the sit-ins accomplished something for the cause.
 You can do anything for any cause that’s important to you. Getting involved doesn’t always have to be some huge, elaborate production. And you don’t have to be involved in the biggest cause you can find. Do what’s important to you.
For example, I’m planning on doing a larger scale fundraiser at the Brushy Mountain Apple Festival next October to raise money and awareness for the abolition of modern-day slavery and human trafficking by means of the A21 Campaign. But that’s quite a way off for now, so I’m setting my sights on smaller fundraisers until then.
The important thing is just to get involved in any kind of way and see where God leads you from there. It’s a lie that we can’t make a change in the world or that we have to wait for someone to tell us when it’s okay to start. Start now!
So what if you don’t have a cause?
Go get one! Martin Luther King Jr. once said that “A man who hasn’t found something he’s willing to die for, he isn’t fit to live”. Now that’s a pretty extreme statement, but the idea that one of the most important things about our lives is to find something important enough to us to die for (or change first).
Some causes you could fight for/against are:
·         Human trafficking/ modern-day slavery
·         HIV/AIDS
·         Help in food banks
·         World hunger/Clean water
·         Providing supplies to orphanages
·         Helping the homeless
·         Recycling
·         Environment Conservation
·         War on poverty/ drugs
·         Suicide prevention
So what does taking action mean for the Christian?
For the Christian, activism is motivated by mission, a God-given call to improve the world and make disciples while we’re doing it. My pastor always says that we are first Christians and then students (or in this case, activists). The differences between activists and Christian activists are out mindsets and the way we go about it.
God has called us to do good works in the world so that we show others the love of Christ in order to bring them to God. No matter which cause we still may be looking for to choose to dedicate ourselves to, we should keep in mind that “we do have a great cause: the glory of Christ and His gospel. If we are to risk our well-being, our bodies, our lives, let it be for that cause” (Alex Harris).
Whenever I think about mission work and activism, two things tend to run through my head, both of them are prayers. The first I found on the Rebelution blog:
“…I wondered what might happen if each of us prayed that invincible determination would come to define our lives; that faithful perseverance would characterize each one of us as we serve over a lifetime in our families, churches, schools, and world. What might God do through a generation like that? What victories might he grant us? It seems worth thinking about. And praying for.”
The second is a prayer that Louie Giglio spoke about at the Passion2012 Conference. It was Paul’s prayer request for himself. “Whenever I open my mouth, let me speak boldly to proclaim the message as I ought.”
I think these prayers go hand in hand so well. They’re worth thinking and praying about. So I pray that these things would always be in my head and heart and I also pray them over my generation.

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