“Christians should be outraged!”
Have you heard this lately? There seems to be no end to the things that we are expected to be outraged about. As a matter of fact, we could pretty much stay outraged for the rest of our lives if we wanted to. The realities of this world are harsh and unforgiving. There’s terrorists and white privilege. There’s babies left in hot cars and babies murdered before their first breath. There’s corruption and liars that run our governments. There’s people who use Jesus’ Name for money, people who use it to curse, and others who refuse to use it at all. There’s abandoned children who don’t have parents and abused children who can only wish they didn’t have parents. There’s rejection of God’s plan for marriage in favor of our fleshly attractions and divorce from marriage after we have committed our lives to it. There’s pastors who intentionally pollute the Scriptures and pastors who completely deny the Scriptures. There’s rampant teenage sex, life threatening drug addiction, and rock & roll as one of societies mildest flavors of entertainment. There’s poverty at every turn, diseases that need to be cured, voices that will never be heard…there is no end to the opportunities for outrage.
This might be one reason why the calls for outrage have started to fall on deaf ears. There are so many causes…so many demands for justice…people pouring out shame on those who aren’t on board with their cause…that it is difficult to keep our ears open to the calls for help. Some days I am very tempted to crawl back into my bed, pull the covers up over my head, and shut the world out. Even then I would hear voices reminding me that not everyone in this world has a bed…or covers.
There are many in the world (yes, even the Christian world) today that are “tying up heavy cumbersome loads and putting them on people’s shoulders”. I feel those burdens every time someone tries to tell me that I should be outraged.
And I tried being outraged for a while…it didn’t really make a difference one way or another. See outrage requires numbers to be any sort of change agent in this world, which is why there is a recruiting effort whenever an issue inspires outrage. No one cares if you are outraged unless you can get a good number of really loud people outraged with you. But does it really change anything? “Man’s anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness” so often we are just a bunch of hot air. We can pop a few balloons, maybe scare a few people…but overall outrage is a pretty tiring and useless response.
Many people calling for outrage think that it will lead to action…that maybe we will get sick and tired enough of the problems to actually do something about them…and while we are all very sick and tired of the evil in this world, it is everywhere. There is no end to it. Am I absolved of guilt if I go feed starving children in Africa or if I march with African Americans for racial equality? Do I look more like Jesus if I risk my life to fight Ebola or if I work to keep families together in Ethiopia? Will the battle for my outrage be resolved if I volunteer at my local crisis pregnancy center or if I write a check to an organization combatting poverty in India? Truth is, I could do all of these things AND give my body to be burned and still not be following Jesus.
So what is a follower of Jesus to do? It is easy to lose hope. It is easy to give in to guilt and fear. It is easy to get confused. It is easy to make a decision not to care. These are the easy ways out. “I give up. What can I do anyway? I am just one. We need the whole Church to get on board and then we could do something.”
First, Stop. Take a deep breath.
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
Eyes away from the outrage and onto Jesus. Eyes away from the harsh reality and onto the Hope of the world.
Throughout the Bible, we see stories of God’s people turning away from Him. We see the Israelites leave their place of faithfulness over and over and over to serve other gods and live like other people. In the days of Jesus and His disciples and His apostles, there were not great numbers of Christ followers. Many, many times, God used a remnant.
I think I love that word because I feel so incredibly blessed and privileged to be a part of it…to be a part of the Light that Jesus has called to this dark world. This is a word that means “small part still left: a small part of something that remains after the rest has gone”
Oh that the entire world would hear the voice of the Savior and leave everything behind to follow Him! But the harsh reality of this world is that “not all men have faith”.
There are people who will never get it even after it is shared in a hundred different ways. There are people who would rather trust themselves, their instincts, their feelings, their affections, then lay them aside to chase a God they can’t see and often can’t feel. There are people who will choose to believe lies because the truth would be too hard to face. There are people who will continue in their sin and continue to contribute to making the world an evil place. This will not end until this world does.
But be encouraged, my brothers and sisters! No matter how bad it gets. No matter how many times they tell us that the world is hopeless…that it is falling apart. No matter how much we are rebuked for refusing to limit ourselves to a good cause. No matter how ugly and dark and evil this world gets…even until it rivals the days of Noah. God has always reserved a remnant…ALWAYS.
Jesus doesn’t need large numbers of followers, He only needs submissive followers. He doesn’t need armies of servants, He only needs servants armed with the power of His Holy Spirit. He doesn’t need spotlights shining on superstars, He need flashlights searching for fallen stars. He has proven time and time and time again what He can do with a remnant of people whose only goal in life is to make His Name famous. People who are determined to bring Light to whatever space their footsteps take them through every day and to whoever Jesus sends into their circle of influence. People who know that EVERY person they meet is an opportunity to obey and an opportunity to share the Hope of the world.
And yes, we glorify His Name through going out into the world to preach the Gospel. We glorify His Name by helping the poor, by extending our hand to the needy, by loving the least of these. Yes, we glorify His Name through working on behalf of justice and pouring out mercy. But we don’t get to choose how He will glorify His Name through us. We don’t get to glance through the catalog of causes and choose the one we think is most worthy of our lives. HE. (hear me) HE. is the only One worthy of our lives. When HE calls I will answer. Where HE sends I will go. HE tells me where I fit in the Body of Christ reaching out to the world. And as I walk in that obedience, I get to see His Hand work mightily through me in whatever part of the world I am in.
That may mean that you are called to your backyard or it might mean that you are called to sell everything and move to Uganda…the most important thing is that we are obeying HIM…not the voices calling for our outrage…not the crowds rebuking us for what they view as our complacency…not the peer pressure to do some great thing “for Christ”… we obey HIM alone, remembering that one day we will be accountable for our actions before His Throne.
I have three daughters adopted from China in addition to two biological sons. We were called to bring them home and we did (watching God work miracles along the way). But I have fulfilled no bigger and better call then my amazing friend who homeschools her two biological daughters. We were both called by God. We are both obeying the call. We both long to stand before the throne one day and hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I support her call and she supports mine. The world is still broken and there are still orphans waiting in China. Is that to her shame? God forbid. Who knows but that she is raising up a daughter who God will call to fix the whole system? We trust Him to know how to redeem this broken down place.
Is the world falling apart? I’d have to answer yes. Is the biggest problem the church? Probably so…it always has been…when the salt loses its savor it can no longer be salt. Harsh reality? Yes. But be encouraged, He does MIGHTY things through a remnant.