What It Takes to Change the World

Since I was traveling and meeting new people yesterday, I heard very late about the events in Paris as my Facebook feed overflowed with grief and anger for the victims. What an incredible tragedy to see innocent people slaughtered in the name of an ideology that is ruthless and has no regard for human life! We can all imagine being in similar settings and feeling the horror of being attacked at times we’d least expect it and losing loved ones in the prime of their lives.
Media coverage will of course go wall-to-wall, creating a continuous wave of grief and fear that is made worse by how powerless we feel to do anything about it.  For most of us Paris is a long ways away, and we have no way to affect the turbulent events in the Middle East in any way that matters.
Interestingly I had an exchange last week about how God wants us to respond to our enemies by loving them and what it means in situations like this. And my answer was, I don’t have a clue.  When I think of the big-ticket items in our world, I’m at a loss as to how love would work in such extremity. But maybe that isn’t the point. We can’t see what it means here because we’re not really involved with any of it.
We can grieve for the people in Paris. We can pray for God’s intervention in these desperate circumstances and for the wisdom of global leaders to deal with all the chaos in our world. But it will help to realize that our media overwhelms us with storylines that invite our emotional responses to situations we cannot influence. And that can be crippling. We grieve for people we don’t know fear circumstances we can’t control. I don’t know how to comfort the people in Paris, or to end Islamic fundamentalist aggression in the world. But I do know how to love the people around me today. I know people going through painful circumstances and grief of their own and can comfort them. I know those who treat me with distain and betrayal and what it means to love them is very clear. We can’t really love “the world” in any meaningful way. It’s too abstract and generalized at a macro level to make any difference, but is richly powerful in the immediate circumstances of our own life.
Is that why Jesus asked us to, “love one another,” not to love the crowds or the whole world? Love is applied in the singular, not the plural. If you want to be the change in the world, get your eyes off of circumstances you don’t control and on to those people and circumstances right around you where your loving can make a difference. If you grieve for the people in Paris and feel powerless to help, think of someone you know going through deep grief or challenge and find a way to encourage them today.  Instead of leaving in fear or frustration of ISIS, find someone who has done you wrong and ask Jesus if there is a way to love him or her today that will begin to reverse the cycle of evil that only adds pain to pain.
We overcome evil in the world not by fussing and fretting, but by loving some one in front of us.  Every act of generosity and kindness brings light into the world.  Every time you comfort a broken heart, offer kindness to a stranger, or make time for someone who is lonely you pour a bit more of the kingdom in the world.
Wherever our fear gives way to love in the immediacy of our own circumstances, the world changes a little and the power of wickedness is broken. Find someone to love, encourage, or bless today and you will have been part of something significant.  You can leave the bigger things in Father’s hands, who is well up to the challenge.

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5 Comments
  1. Anonymous November 14, 2015 at 10:41 am

    There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

    I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

    Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

    When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

     

    Excerpt from talk given by Abdu’l-Bahá during His first stay in Paris,  October 1911. God is one God, and he is Love and Truth. “Perfect love casts out fear.” I John 14:18

     

  2. Ann November 14, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    I like the article and feel it gives great advice on making a difference and bringing light into the world.Every good act we do brings light into the world
    Thus affecting in a positive way.I only want to emphasize prayer makes a diffrence and we are sending positive energy send warm encouraging love.

  3. Anonymous November 14, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    There is nothing so heart-breaking and terrible as an outburst of human savagery!

    I charge you all that each one of you concentrate all the thoughts of your heart on love and unity. When a thought of war comes, oppose it by a stronger thought of peace. A thought of hatred must be destroyed by a more powerful thought of love. Thoughts of war bring destruction to all harmony, well-being, restfulness and content.

    Thoughts of love are constructive of brotherhood, peace, friendship, and happiness.

    When soldiers of the world draw their swords to kill, soldiers of God clasp each other’s hands! So may all the savagery of man disappear by the Mercy of God, working through the pure in heart and the sincere of soul. Do not think the peace of the world an ideal impossible to attain!

     

    Excerpt from talk given by Abdu’l-Bahá during His first stay in Paris,  October 1911. God is one God, and he is Love and Truth. “Perfect love casts out fear.” I John 14:18

     

  4. Ann November 14, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    I like the article and feel it gives great advice on making a difference and bringing light into the world.Every good act we do brings light into the world
    Thus affecting in a positive way.I only want to emphasize prayer makes a diffrence and we are sending positive energy send warm encouraging love.

  5. John Pollitt February 23, 2016 at 11:00 am

    In this decade we have a new Holocaust. It has killed many in Iraq and Syria and driven millions out of their homes and countries. Now thousands are desperate to immigrate to Europe and overflowing the resources to help them. Do you recall the Marshall Plan after WWII? Millions were sent to rebuild war damage and help survivors.

    We have the chance to help meet a terrible, huge, pressing need. Many of those sufferers are Muslims who must be touched by the gifts of Christians. Just as the Marshall Plan brought friendly relations with Germany, a “Jesus Plan” would bring peace with the Muslims.

    We have many needs in the USA, but Jesus calls us to love and serve ALL NATIONS.

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