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Activist Faith

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Have you grown tired of the media headlines telling you what this or that person “should do” about the latest controversy? He should arrest that person. She should sue that guy. This company should be avoided. That location should be applauded.

In a world of should and shouldn’t, the Bible offers a refreshing word of encouragement:

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. -James 1:27

While some accuse Christianity of being the source of society’s woes, a direct reading of Scripture often offers hope found nowhere else. James was a brother of Jesus and a leader of the earliest church in Jerusalem. He experienced both the joys of faith expressed in action and the frustrations of when this did not occur.

His response? God’s words are important. So is its application.

Gandhi was known for saying, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Yet James wrote the same basic concept 1,900 years earlier.

Instead of complain and lament, he calls us to act and serve.

How does this look? Here are a few examples, some seemingly mundane and others more controversial:

  • Do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
  • Watch your sister’s kids for free while she gets some rest or time away.
  • Let a car merge in front of you for someone in who is stuck in traffic.
  • Treat an angry customer with dignity and respect.
  • Offer encouraging words to your child.
  • Donate to a cause that is doing great things in our world.
  • Offer food or drink to a panhandler on the street corner.
  • Share hospitality to an international student or immigrant in need of practical assistance.

Why do these seemingly everyday tasks matter? Two reasons–the impact of one and the impact of many.

The Impact of One

You’ve probably heard the story of the child and the starfish. A parent and child are walking along the beach when the child sees a starfish on the beach. He picks it up and throws it back into the ocean, hoping to save its life. The parent asks, “Why even bother? There are countless starfish. You can’t save them all.”

The child replied, “It mattered to that starfish.”

The same is true with people. You may not feel like you can change the world, but you can change the world for one person.

The Impact of Many

If the impact of one is true, then many people practicing this concept can change the world. Sometimes when I speak to a church audience or group of students, I’ll make the impact of the application greater by stating, “And if you will love your neighbor as yourself and you will and you will and you in the back row will, this community will be different next week.”

So here’s the challenge: What is your “impact of one” today? Second, how many of you reading these words will impact one other person? If five people do, that’s great. If 5,000 people do, we’ll change nations. You can’t choose who else will be the change today, but you can choose to change you and change the life of someone near you.

Go for it. More walk, less talk.

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Dr. Dillon Burroughs is one of America’s top communicators on today’s Christian issues. He serves as senior writer of The John Ankerberg Show and is author or coauthor of nearly 40 books. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. He lives with his wife and three children in Tennessee.

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