Like most Facebook users, I’ve got far more acquaintances than actual friends or family on my personal account, so when I do my daily troll, I skip skip skip through postings from people I barely know.
Yes. Yes. I should do something about this. Point taken.
But reading words from random strangers is an exercise in understanding humanity. I paused over one post about the massive birthday party of a teenager I actually know -- and like! -- to read a comment that reflects a common attitude of 21st century American Christianity:
“These are fine young people,” the person wrote, “and maybe they will lead the change needed in our world!”
And what about . . . um . . . you, the person making this comment? or me? or the massive quantity of existing Christians out there who are no longer 16 and on the cusp of hope and adulthood, but solidly in the middle of being grown-ups and supposed to be doing something now, with the wisdom, strength, understanding, and experience we’ve picked up in the last 20, 30, 40, 50, 70 years?
A generation ago, people the same age as the person making this comment said the same thing, except not on Facebook, and we were destined to be the instruments of change. Did we make it? More importantly, are we making it now?
American Christianity has a tendency to look to the future for a better time, a revival, a movement of the Spirit that isn’t, ever, happening now. But in always thinking ahead, we avoid the present, and we discount our ability to do anything significant because we don’t see great waves of humanity pushing forward to a grand altar call and turning the world upside down.
“We need a Billy Graham,” people sigh, “or an Elijah. Or Jesus coming back. Someone who will make the grand difference that this world needs.”
Well, that Someone already came, He still lives, and He lives in His people, every one of us in every generation that existed, exists now, or is yet to come. And He has given each one of us work to do. It may not involve thousands of weeping supplicants, but if you’re a believer in Christ, it involves you.
I know. You’re ordinary. So am I. So are millions and millions of His people -- all of us, actually, although some are blinded to this fact by their money or status or the accolades they receive from the world of men. And those of us who recognize how ordinary we truly are, are blinded as well, because we think we can’t do anything unless we are a mighty pastor or a recognized author or a speaker that others pay money to listen to.
This misconception is nothing new. The disciples with whom Jesus physically walked frequently argued amongst themselves over who was “greatest,” and is it any surprise that Jesus’ way of looking at things would be different from theirs, or ours?
“Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among all -- he is the greatest.’” (Luke 9:47-48)
In the world of men, I am nobody. But in the family of God, I am a precious, and blessed, child, despite being a half-century old. I have work to do -- His work -- and every single morning when I awake I ask Him, “What do you want me to do today?”
And I do it.
We are not dependent upon the generation to come to make the big difference. We are dependent upon Christ, who works His majesty, every day, through His people.
Carolyn Henderson is a 21st century Christian who writes about ordinary life, ordinary people, and Contempo Christianity in her blog, This Woman Writes. She is the co-owner of Steve Henderson Fine Art, and the author of Live Happily On Less.