Having access to endless information in the 21st century can be paralyzing.
Scrolling through social media increases our anxiety as we find our feeds littered with countless posts telling us which social justice causes we should care about. Every post is accompanied by a not-so-subtle message: “You have to do something about ALL of these things!” In the end, we often find ourselves caring about a few of them. The best we can muster is a few “likes” and an occasional online rant resulting in little transformation brought into the real world.
The privilege of being a westerner in the 21st century also comes with a burden. No one in the history of humanity has had access to as much information as we do. We are like empty soda bottles attempting to swallow the ocean. It’s beyond our capacity. The gap between what we can do and what the world needs is too wide.
We despair at our limitations.
But in the gospel, there is good news and hope.
While our souls aren’t built to care for so much need, God is. While we cannot save anyone (least of all ourselves), God can. While our knowledge, expertise, energy, compassion, and kindness are limited, God is limitless. We cannot hold the ocean but the Maker of the oceans can.
We cannot fix everything. We can only trust God. Trust is what love looks like when it takes action.
When you’re unsure of what to do next and what trusting God looks like, here are a few pieces of advice for you:
ADVICE #1: YOUR WOUNDS ARE A CLUE TO YOUR PASSIONS.
In every person’s story, there are moments of great pain or loss. These wounds stay with us. They impact how we live and how we think. They change who we are.
Our wounds cry out for redemption. We long for God to come and make sense of the tragedies we’ve experienced. We look for signs of meaning and ways to see God give purpose to our pain. These are clues pointing us toward our greatest passions. In what areas of your life have you suffered?
In what areas have you struggled? What do you wish someone had done for you during your time of pain? Are there people or causes that you can step toward in these areas? Go find them today.
ADVICE #2: JUST SHOW UP.
Our neighbor is whoever we see. So, start being present wherever you are.
What areas of need do you see? How can you help there? Who is someone you know who needs love? Choose one person, place, or cause and just show up. Make yourself available.
How will you know if it’s the right cause? That’s easy. There will be people there who are hurting and need love. With the aid of the Holy Spirit, you have what is needed to simply love people in words and deeds. Be kind to whoever is around you and in need. Help your neighbor move their heavy furniture, cut your neighbor's grass or do small acts of generosity for them.
ADVICE #3: JOIN A COMMUNITY OF ACTION
There are ministries and churches in your hometown that are making a deep, gospel-saturated impact on social justice causes, and they are waiting for you to join them. Maybe it’s a food pantry, an addiction recovery program, a homelessness ministry, or a church that cares for single moms. These nonprofits and ministries rely on volunteers to meet the needs of the people they serve. When you join with them, you’ll find an opportunity not just to make an impact, but to be impacted by the body of Christ.
Maybe you’re a young adult looking for an even bigger way to make an impact on your world. Consider joining Love Thy Neighborhood for a summer or for a gap year on mission. Whether your passion is making an impact on refugees, homelessness, abortion, or one of our other 15 internship tracks, you’ll want to come and be a part of this special experience. We offer both year-long and summer-long opportunities where you will be paired with a nonprofit ministry.
There are unlimited ways a person can join God’s mission to love our neighbors. Neighbors in need are around all of us! So, no matter where you are, seek out a community to join in on this mission.
Q: How much time do you spend with your neighbors? What can you quit this week to make more space for your neighbors?
Q: What is something you can let go of to trust God more fully? How would this help you trust God more?
Q: How could being a part of Love Thy Neighborhood benefit your life and future ministry? What do you think about applying for LTN?
Praise God for his faithfulness and presence in your life. Is trusting God hard for you? Share with God why it's hard for you. Be specific. Do you know your neighbors well? Pray for them. Ask God to help you serve your neighbors in daily, normal things and be involved in their lives.