It’s easy to look at this world and see the ways it’s broken. Stories of human trafficking, shootings at garlic festivals, parents accidentally leaving children in hot cars, and more are strewn across the headlines. And then there are the things that don’t necessarily make the news: poverty, hunger, families being torn apart, family members dying. We see so much misery that we’re overwhelmed—and tempted to check out emotionally.
But checking out isn’t the way to show Jesus’ love to others. In his book The God Impulse, Jack Alexander reminds us that personal connection is vital in today’s society. “I’m amazed how often we don’t take the time to listen to other people and try to understand what’s really going on in their lives,” he says. “We try not to involve ourselves. Even when we’re trying to be merciful, we keep that mercy at arm’s length. We write checks to ministries or organizations that get their hands dirty instead of getting dirty ourselves. . . . A check, no matter how generous, is not a good substitute for those arms of affection.”
That’s why this author encourages us to rush in to help and heal and hold people when they need it most. After all, “God doesn’t take us into his arms because it’s his job and he must. Every fiber of his infinite being is geared toward loving, nurturing, and protecting his creation.”
As God’s children, we get to take the compassion we receive from him and pass it along to others. To make this idea personal to my family, one night we each answered the question, “What can you do in your circle of influence to make a difference in the world?”
We each came up with ways we could shine God’s light to the people around us, and it was a way of remembering that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).
Just last week I witnessed people who rushed in to help and heal. As my daughter and I were getting into our car, we heard a thunk and saw a large cloud of smoke/dust. As we drove two minutes down the road, we came across a car crash. Several people had already stopped, and we quickly stopped too. In just a few minutes, the shoulder was lined with cars because of all the people who had stopped to help.
That’s when those people got involved. One man put out the fire. Another passerby held a water bottle against the neck of one of the women involved. Others stayed on the line with 911. Some helped people get out of the crashed vehicle. A doctor stopped and talked to the one who was injured the worst. People grabbed water, called family members of those involved, and spoke comforting words. When one of the people involved was calling out in pain, one woman—due to injury—couldn’t plug her own ears. So my daughter did it for her, which helped the woman stay calm and deal with the situation.
I don’t know if the people who stopped are all believers in Jesus, but for those of us who are, it was not an interruption in our day but an opportunity to do the good works God prepared for us.
Today is a good day to ask yourself what you will do in your circle of influence to make a difference in the world.
If you don’t mind sharing, leave your idea in the comments as a way to encourage us all.
Linda Buxa is a writer and editor who decided to make a difference by saying thank you more and showing appreciation to the people around her.