MOVING FORWARD IN FAITH #5
(What Do You Stand For?)
A few years ago, Jim and I took our youth group on a mission trip to Newark, New York. The theme for our week of serving together was, “What Do You Stand For?” Throughout the week, we learned and experienced some ways we can stand up to love and serve God and others, as well as stand for, to represent Christ in the world, to live in a way that models Jesus.
Today as we keep Moving Forward in Faith Through Trying Times, we are invited to take a stand, to help bring about a new and better day. The issues that burden or dismay us, the beliefs or allegiances that divide us, or the heartaches that grieve us, can be turned into opportunities to DO something. Oh, we could sit and lament for hours, couldn’t we? But what good would that do our spirits or our world? How much better we are when we choose to work for good instead of lamenting the bad.
What are some ways we can stand up, by taking action through service?
What are some ways we can stand for, by representing Christ through love?
As I noted in my previous post, we cannot do it all. But we are free and encouraged to serve in the areas we are most passionate about – the issues that most bless or frustrate us – according to our character and strengths (1 Corinthians 12). Whether we have the time and energy to be an activist (use direct and public methods to bring about social and political change), or an advocate (publicly support something), provide assistance (take action to help someone or support something), or do small acts of kindness, together we can brighten and bless our community and world.*
Even in my small “corner of the world,” I see many examples of love and faith in action through my friends and family. Nancy trains assistance dogs who will help comfort and calm souls. Kay volunteers for an agency that advocates for senior citizens, helping to resolve troubles and answer their needs. Elaine helps to organize an annual trash clean-up to make her city more beautiful. Jennie marched in the Women’s March on Washington, standing together with many others for the rights of women. Angie is a dedicated foster mom, providing a safe home, tender care, and much love for children. Doy promotes the Paw Hoorah, an annual fundraising event for Planned Pethood, reducing the number of neglected or abandoned animals. Jim volunteers on the board of Fairness West Virginia, working for equal rights for those who still remain discriminated against. Several of our Toledo friends serve weekly at the Holy Trinity food pantry, not only providing food for those in need, but also praying and sharing communion with them. Denny has organized volunteers to tutor children after school. Kevin donates what he can of his meager salary to support those who work for justice and equality. These dear people are taking a stand; they are choosing to make at least one good difference for all of creation.
I find that when I act with kindness, speak for justice, or help another person – even in some small way – I am blessed with peace and joy for these difficult times. Doing so helps me to take the focus off my own troubles, gives me purpose, and adds to my own hope for better days. Each time we can transform our negative feelings into positive change, we become a blessing, but we are also blessed.
In the United States, today offers a renewed hope, with a new administration and a new president. Whatever emotions or feelings you have about the election, I hope that all Americans will regard this as an opportunity for a new beginning. There is work to do, and we are called to work for good – not only for ourselves or for our country – but also for our world.
What one thing will you do today to help make the world a better place? How might you do so with the humility and love of Jesus?
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 (NRSV)
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Micah 6:8 (NRSV)
He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?
1 John 3:18 (NRSV)
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Bible verses found at BibleGateway.com: A searchable online Bible in over 150 versions and 50 languages.
*the definitions of activist and advocate were found at Cambridge English Dictionary: Meanings & Definitions