We are told to change the world! Jesus told us that we are “the salt of the earth” and the “light of the world.” We must therefore, let our saltiness preserve and our our light shine. “A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” so we must “let [our] light shine before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5:13-16).
What I wonder however, about the mandate to change the world is whether we really know what it means and what it looks like in our hum drum day to day living? Another question I have is whether we are actually commanded to change the world. That discussion will have to occur on another day.
In Michael Horton’s fairly new book, Ordinary, he is worried that our call to change the world is actually becoming something we hide behind. He writes, “Changing the world can be a way of actually avoiding the opportunities we have every day, right where God has placed us, to glorify him and enjoy him and to enrich the lives of others.” In other words, we can become enthralled with a social justice cause in some other country that we bypass the people God has placed in front of us everyday.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about justice around the world. We should be. It’s important. But what I think Horton is worried about is that in our desire to be change agents in the world, which always appears to be in some place other than where we live, we lose sight of doing good to the people around us. It’s like a group of students leaving on a mission trip to India for two weeks while driving by an apartment complex comprised of people from India just two blocks from where they live. Again, not saying we shouldn’t go to India. Just wondering if we are aware of those that God has placed right in front of us.
I’m thinking that our context of what it means to change the world, therefore, needs to be adjusted. The reality is that the lady who scans my groceries at the nearest food store could be struggling financially with health bills. Our next door neighbor could have a struggling marriage. The school we pass each day to and from work most likely has children that are neglected at home. The list could go on and on and I think you see the point.
Could it be that changing the world is truly about taking notice of your day to day life and realizing the opportunities that God has placed around you? Granted, praying for our neighbors and children in our local schools may not be near as glamorous as doing so overseas, but since when has doing good for the glory of God been about us anyway?
Let’s look around some today. Miracles might not happen. The person you decide to smile at and be nice to may not reciprocate. It may just be another one of “those” days. But continue to be open and remember that many times, if not all, God uses the ordinary to do something extraordinary.