When it comes to receiving eternal life with God, we are powerless. All of us are sinners. All of us are not good enough for the glory of Heaven and fantastic New Earth God has planned for us. Beyond that, all of us are shut down to God. We cannot understand or believe His plans. We all need help, and God wants to help us and does.
Fixing what will happen after death is God’s main concern, but it is not His only concern. Once we are His, God wants to transform us to be more like Him. This transformation is not just for transformation’s sake. It is to equip us to make a positive impact in this life.
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.Ephesians 2:10
We look out at a world of 7.8 billion people and see so many problems. Though we (humans) have made many things better, we have also made many things worse. It is good to have a desire to make a difference, even if we know our impact may be small in comparison to the enormity of the world’s problems. We want to be part of the solution rather than part of problem. God isn’t necessarily fixing the world prior to recreating it. But don’t be discouraged. God does want to bring about major good and wishes to use us to do so.
So how can we make a difference? What good works has God prepared for us to do? The scope of the answer to this question is very broad. Let’s break it down into some smaller, more comprehensible parts. God will use us, if we are willing, to prepare others for eternal life, to act as good stewards of what God has made, and to counteract evil with good. Let’s start with the last one.
It is God’s burden to position us and lead us to situations where we are chosen to counteract evil with good. We cannot take it all on. We are most effective if we work where we are chosen. We have some assets with which to work: the power of our prayer, the ability to enable others through well chosen financial support, the power of our words, and our direct actions. With these our impact can be very broad.
Unless directed by God otherwise, we should look for the place of our impact through direct action within our areas of expertise and/or in our local area. Here I am not speaking exclusively about areas in which we have been formally trained. We have natural, God-given abilities, learned abilities and true spiritual-gifts. God shapes us over the course of time to use these things. The point of application for our gifts might be very clear, like a job, or it might just be points of contact that God sets up for us.
For instance, our job might provide a service that people need or seek. By doing our job with dedication and care for our customer or client we improve the world for them. We may also through our job become familiar with people who are struggling in some way with life. God may let you know in some way that you are to help. The same happens by caring well for our family and through contacts via our family.
We may still have time and desire to give. Networking through a church, or setting aside time for well organized ministry expands our impact.
Going abroad to make an impact often puts us in a cultural or language environment where we are less effective. Still the experience may have value in how it shapes and prepares us. God may also lead you out of your normal circle to spend extensive time to do something for good. How God leads is very individualistic and diverse. You most likely know it when it happens. Sometimes it is not what you want. Part of God’s workmanship on us is bringing us around to His point of view.
Words and listening can do as much as action. I am blessed to be in a profession where I can share the Word of God. God’s powerful ideas change lives. We can be a conduit of getting God’s Word into people’s lives through in-person contact and also social media contact. Consider what are your circles of influence.
Counteracting evil with good can also be done by financial support. Here is a word of caution. It can be too easy to throw money at a problem and actually do harm. Research what you support to make sure it is good cause that efficiently uses funds. Pick only a few. Requests will be many.
What constitutes a good cause? Most agencies and non-profits deal with acute needs: food, medicine, medical care, housing in places where long-term solutions are either in process or non-existent. We want to be sure that provided care doesn’t make long-term economic solutions impossible. Ask these questions of agencies. What is their exit plan? How do they help with permanent solutions?
Finally, you can make a difference with prayer. This is true even if you are physically or financially unable to help. Why would prayer matter? This is a bit of a mystery. God knows needs better than we do. Why would He look to us to ask about it? All I can say is that prayer brings action. Failure to pray often results in nothing happening. Prayer in combination with either action or financial support is the strongest response of counteracting evil with good.
In my upcoming blog entries, I will say more about stewardship and evangelism as we consider how we make a difference.