By Jim Tune
Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. I think the small part I play won’t make a difference. Mother Teresa nips this doubt in the bud, saying, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”
We can talk about love, preach sermons about love, quote Scriptures about love, and long to love. Still, I think the bottom line is something like this: The best way to learn the ways of love is to live it, try it, do it, and risk it—enter into another person’s life and let someone into ours.
Jesus shows us the way by reminding us it’s people who matter. He teaches us to spend ourselves, stop and help, shore up wounds, and look the outcasts in the eyes and remind them of their worth. The issues surrounding justice and poverty can frequently be overspiritualized and turn quickly into theological or political conversations rather than practical action, which is one of the reasons even religious folk turn to secular pursuits of justice. They just want to get something done and stop talking about it.
Perhaps we need to examine ourselves again. All too often in our culture, Christians and churches try so hard to build spectacular buildings, plan attractive programs, and stage newsworthy events. It is easy to be tempted by numbers, tempted to do big, spectacular things so we can, apparently, garner attention for the gospel. Jesus, however, called us to the insignificant. He compared our revolution to the mustard seed, to yeast making its way through dough, slowly fermenting this world with love.
Let’s be honest, no one can change the entire world, but we can impact the worlds of some. In his book, Just Courage, Gary Haugen states this plainly:
He is inviting all of us on his great, costly expedition of transformation in the world—but we must respond. Are we coming or staying? Jesus is relentlessly issuing the invitation and forcing a choice to action. What are we going to do? I am much more interested in telling Jesus and others what I believe, but Jesus (and the watching world) knows that what I truly believe will be manifested in what I choose to do.
Sometimes the most significant things we can do to change the world come down to how we choose to live each day. As we strive to do big things for Jesus, let’s not forget to befriend, love, and serve those in our own backyards. Making a difference starts with our families, our neighbors, our communities, and those on the margins of our own lives.
Mother Teresa realized this: “Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.” As the busy director of a church planting organization and senior pastor of a growing church, I could get so carried away with growth, success, metrics, and scaling, I could neglect the simple, small, and ordinary things.
Let’s never forget that one is always better than none, and something is always better than nothing. The world around me is filled with people God loves. The only way these people will ever feel Jesus’ love is if someone brings it to them. That’s my cue to do something.