Not just a lot of talk...
“For the Kingdom of God is not just a lot of talk; it is living by God’s power.”
1 Corinthians 4:20
This verse has really been convicting me this week.
Because I can say what I believe and I can post words and thoughts on social media all day long, but it’s how I LIVE that reveals the truth of what I really believe, and reflects what is really actually important to me.
What I do says more about the condition of my heart than what I say.
You know a tree by its fruit.
God has really been working in my heart lately, convicting me to go beyond just saying what is important to me and what I care about and DOING something about it. I’ve been doing a lot of self-evaluating lately, a lot of introspection...asking a lot of hard questions and asking God to reveal the truth of my heart.
"Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!" Psalm 139:23
First I've been asking, does my heart align with Christ’s? Not with that author I like or with that person I admire or with that article I read on Facebook or with some political agenda or some good-sounding idea or even my emotions or what “feels right”…but does my heart align with CHRIST? Is my soul in tune with His Spirit? Is my world view aligned with HIS Word, and are my beliefs aligned with HIS heart? (This requires some deep and dedicated time in His Word, and some fervent and intentional time in prayer…this is something I am still doing…I’m still asking, still seeking, still knocking.)
And then, do my actions line up with my words? What does the way I live reveal about my heart? Do my actions reflect Christ in me?
Am I just a lot of talk…or am I living by God’s power?
That’s convicting, right there. Or at least, it has deeply convicted me.
Because the thing is, I’m not going to change your opinion about anything by yelling mine.
But...I might just make a difference in your life by setting mine aside and doing something to show you the love of Jesus.
I’m not going to be able to wipe out poverty or starvation in all of the world by simply writing a blog post or sharing an article on Facebook.
But...I can share a meal with a hungry neighbor or donate food to places that feed the homeless or volunteer to serve people in need.
I can’t mend all the brokenness in our culture and our world. I can’t stop all the fear and the fighting and all the hateful words.
But I can reach across the lines and choose to see the souls that Jesus died for and act in love anyway.
I can’t fix all the problems. I don’t honestly even fully understand all the problems.
But I can sit down beside someone who is different than me – who looks different than me, or believes different than me, or has a different opinion about something than me, or is passionate about something different than I am – and I can listen to their story. Because everyone has a story. Every single person on this entire planet has a story that brought them to this very moment. And every single person on this planet was created by God, in the image of God, and loved by God. Every single person. And not a single person is beyond the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus. Not a single person.
There is no person, no people group, no country that is fundamentally more worthy or more valuable or more loved by God than another. Jesus died for ALL. For everyone. His love is not conditional on your place of birth or color of your skin or economic status…so why should mine be?
I can’t help everyone, but I can help someone.
I can’t do everything, but I can do something.
And the something I’m called to do may not look exactly the same as the something that you are called to do. But that doesn’t mean we are against each other, or that what I’m doing is more important than what you are doing or vice versa. Now, there are some things that God calls all of us to do:
“Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.” Isaiah 1:17 NLT
“Do not mistreat foreigners, orphans, and widows. Stop murdering the innocent!” Jeremiah 22:3
“ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” Matthew 5:44
“…what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
We are all called to do these things. But just as the parts of the body have different functions, I believe God burdens each of our hearts in different specific ways to fulfill His Kingdom purposes.
There are so many ways to serve God…so many ways to share the love of Jesus…so many people in this world to love. If we are willing to open our eyes to the needs around us, it won’t take long for God to reveal someone we can serve and love and help.
So if God burdens my heart specifically for a family in my neighborhood, I should do all that I can to help them and serve them and show them the love of Jesus.
If God burdens my heart for the homeless man begging on the corner, I should do all that I can to help him and serve him and show him the love of Jesus.
If God burdens my heart for single moms, I should do all that I can to help them and serve them and show them the love of Jesus.
If God burdens my heart for foster kids, I should do all that I can to help them and serve them and show them the love of Jesus.
If God burdens my heart for prisoners, or for a local school, or for veterans or pastors or widows or military families or police officers or a minority group…or anyone…I should do all that I can to help them and serve them and show them the love of Jesus.
And if God burdens my heart for refugees, regardless of their country of origin or religion or what they wear or what language they speak…if God reveals a need and burdens my heart, I should do all that I can to help and serve and love them.
And none of these are mutually exclusive. It’s not either/or scenario…we are called to love ALL and serve ALL and help ALL. We are called to see the image of God in every. single. person. And to extend the love of Jesus and share the Good News with every. single. person.
Veterans and refugees, widows and orphans, prisoners and police officers, our neighbors and our enemies.
And we are especially called to stand in the gap for the oppressed and the poor and the widows and the orphans and the hungry and the least of these.
Jesus said, “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
“Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
“Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”
Matthew 25:31-46 NLT
I don't know about you, but these verses deeply convict me.
If I see the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the prisoner…if I see a person who needs the love of Jesus, I should feed them and give them drink and invite them in and visit them.
But do I do that? Really?
If I see a need, I should do something, in the power of God, to meet that need.
Realistically, obviously, I personally can’t help everyone who needs help in this entire big beautiful broken world…but I can help someone. **AND I can cheer you on as you love and help the people God has called you to serve and help and love.**
The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, but it is also much bigger than the boxes we like to put around it, and the Body of Christ needs all of its parts to fully function and have maximum effect in this broken and hurting world.
“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Ephesians 4:14-16 (ESV)
As followers of Jesus, we’re all in this thing together.
None of us can do everything…but we each can do something.
But our faith has to be more than just a lot of talk…we need to live by God’s power and DO what He has called us to do.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
If we all just did that…if *I* would just do that…
So, to that end…I’ve decided to not just talk about what I think we should do, and instead go and do something. I’m going to do what I can with what I have where I am.
God has been burdening my heart for refugees for over a year now. I’ve prayed for them, given to organizations that serve them, and I’ve shared my heart for them a few times. But God has really convicted me lately about being more than just a lot of talk…He is calling me to put hands and feet to my words and do something.
I know…right now in our country, the topic of refugees is a heated and polarizing debate. There is currently a ban on any new refugees entering our country. Many are speaking out against this. Many are speaking out in favor of it. Many are silent.
Please understand my heart…I am deeply aching, over all of this. I have been researching and listening and praying and reading God’s Word and seeking Him desperately.
Here’s the thing…this is not an either/or choice for me.
You see, I LOVE our military. My dad was in the Air Force, and I grew up all over the world as a military kid. I could not love our military more or be more thankful for their sacrifices and service. But I ALSO love refugees and immigrants. To say I love one is not saying I don’t love the other. Love is not mutually exclusive. As Shannan Martin says, “Love never divides, it always always multiplies.” I believe with all my heart that I can care for both, stand up for both, have compassion for both. It doesn’t have to be an either/or, us/them scenario. In the same way, I can care about our country’s security AND have compassion for those who seek refuge…they are not mutually exclusive. My heart breaks for the way some of our military have been treated when they return home from serving our country. It is wrong. It breaks my heart. My heart also breaks for the families from war-torn countries that have already been through the extreme horrors of a war that I can’t even imagine, who have already been through a rigorous, multi-year process to be vetted as refugees, who were already cleared to be resettled in America, but are now being turned away at the last minute with no home to return to. This is wrong. It breaks my heart. My heart breaks for a boy from Iraq named Samir, who was badly injured by ISIS fighters when they doused him in gasoline and lit him on fire (you can read his story here). He needs advanced medical treatment in order to fully recover and walk without pain, and his best hope was in America, but now that door, at least for now, is closed for him and his family. My heart breaks for him.
I’ve read stories on all sides. And my heart breaks on all sides. Because beneath all the layers of debate and heated dialogue, behind all the headlines and polarizing rhetoric, and under all the broad stokes that are so easy to paint over issues like this…under it all, are people. Behind every side of every issue are real people with living souls and with broken stories…human beings created by God, made in His image, loved immeasurably by Jesus who gave His life for them.
So whoever you see as the “enemy,” whoever you view as the “other” in all this…those people on the other side of the debate as you, those people on the other side of the world, those people on the other side of the screen…we have to remember that they are people, too. People with souls and stories….people who God loves so much that He gave His Son to rescue their souls and redeem their broken hearts.
And the truth is, there are people who are hurting today. There are people who are scared today. So I ask myself, how can I be light and love to them today? How can I break down the walls that divide and compartmentalize and categorize groups of people and instead see individuals and love them and help them and serve them today?
God has burdened my heart for refugees, and yet I don’t personally know a single one.
I want to change that.
Just because right now no new refugees are allowed into our country doesn’t mean that there aren’t already MANY here who I can help and serve and love.
So I’ve been doing some research. A lot of research.
And I’m going to start doing something…I’m going to put feet and hands to my words and my heart and start living like I’m more than just a lot of talk…I want to live by the power of God. Because 1000 years from now, it won’t really matter what I said I thought about an executive order or how many “likes” I got on a Facebook post…the only thing that will really matter for any of us 1000 years from now is our relationship with Jesus. The rest will burn away like chaff…the only thing that is eternal is the soul. The only things I do that will matter 1000 years from now are the things that I do to invest in eternity. So, how can I help others come to know Jesus? How can I be His hands and feet in this world? How can I take the burden that He’s put in my heart and make it more than just a lot of talk, but by His power reach out and make a difference for a soul who needs Jesus today?
If God has burdened my heart for refugees, I should be doing more than just saying we should care for refugees…I should go and care for refugees.
So that’s what I’m going to do.
Jennie Allen compiled a great list if you are looking for ways to get involved too. (And I love what she says: “We don’t need permission or legislation to rally for refugees.” She is right…there are already so many ways we can help and serve them right now.)
It breaks my heart that our country is not accepting more refugees right now, but that doesn't mean I can't advocate for them, stand up for them, and serve the ones that are already here...
I can do what I can with what I have where I am.
There aren’t many organizations where I live that work specifically with refugees…the only ones that I have been able to find so far in my state of Georgia are about 2 hours away from my home, near Atlanta.
So….I’m going to start by looking into volunteering in Atlanta, even if it’s just for a few hours a month.
I want to put faces to this burden in my heart…I want to pull up a chair sit next to a refugee and hear their stories and hug their necks and tell them that they are loved. I want to break down the walls around my comfort zone and enter into the brokenness of another…I want to live cruciform and lay down my own plans and my own life for the sake of sharing the love of Jesus.
I don’t want my life to just be a lot of talk…I want to live by the power of God. I want to DO what He is calling me to do.
What is God calling you to do today? Who is He asking you to love? He might be burdening your heart for prisoners, or for police officers, or for the kids living in poverty in your community, or for a country halfway across the world…
Honestly, you don’t have to drive two hours away or fly halfway around the world to find someone who needs the love of Jesus...most of the time all it takes is opening your door and taking a few steps across the street.
What steps can you take today to live by God’s power and not just a lot of talk?
“and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds” Hebrews 10:24 AMP
Let’s love one another and cheer for one another and encourage each other as we walk this cruciform way, the way of Jesus.