by Dale Reeves
If you search for songs on YouTube with the theme of “changing the world,” you will find a number of offerings: from Sesame Street’s “Change the World” tune to Disney’s Friends for Change, “We Can Change the World,” to Maysa’s question, “Can We Change the World?” to Eric Clapton’s iconic “Change the World” to contemporary Christian singer Danny Gokey, who tells us that:
“The world is in need right now, it’s time to let love be loud.
We gotta be what we preach about.
We can make a difference. we can do our talking with our hands and feet,
Love is on a mission, let the difference start with you and me.
Finding what’s broke so we can build it up, healing the ones that have been hurt.
Even a little just might be enough, but first, we’ve got to get to work.”
You may want to give Danny’s music video a listen today:
We can change the world, but first, we can change ourselves—then we can make a difference in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, and in our schools. I loved this past Sunday at Christ’s Church when our senior minister, Brad Wilson, called on us to step up to the plate and practically be “Difference Makers” in our spheres of influence. As the members of our church exited our worship experiences last weekend, they approached our staff and told us specifically how they are making a difference—or plan to in the future. Then, they were given a “Difference Maker” T-shirt to wear. As I talked with several individuals on Sunday and asked them how they were making a difference, I noticed that many of our church members were a bit shy about telling me. If I followed up and asked them, “Are you having a positive impact on people at your workplace . . . or as a parent with your kids . . . or as a grandparent . . . or as a student bringing your friends with you to church?” almost without exception I got the response, “Well, yeah, I suppose I am.”
Sometimes we simply need encouragement from others to help us see just how God is already using us to reach others for his name. And, sometimes, that encouragement can lead to even more impact with others for the cause of Christ.
Run Toward the Opportunities, Not Away from Them
Brad preached on the opportunities that God had placed before the children of Israel after their exodus from the slavery of Egypt as they were moving toward the Promised Land God had spoken of to Abraham over 400 years prior. While they were wandering in the Desert of Paran, God directed Moses to send out twelve spies to check out the Promised Land, one each from the twelve tribes of Israel. They were to go on a recon mission and return with a report to Moses. All twelve of the spies are named in Numbers 13, but only two of the names are known by most people—Joshua and Caleb. They were the only two spies who had faith enough to say, “The land is ours. Let’s go and get it!” The other ten spies were fearful of the “giants in the land.” As they said, “Next to them we felt like grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33, NLT). But Joshua and Caleb essentially reported, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall!” And, that’s why you only know the names of two of the twelve spies sent out by Moses.
It’s also very interesting that the spies explored the land for forty days; then upon the negative report of the ten “bad spies,” God punished the children of Israel with forty years of wandering in the wilderness. God allowed them to wander in the wilderness one year for every day that they had explored the land (see Numbers 14:33-35). The number forty is symbolic all throughout Scripture: Moses spent forty days and nights with God on Mount Sinai before descending the mountain with the Ten Commandments; after the prophet Elijah utterly defeated the prophets of Baal with God’s power, God took his prophet on a forty-day trip of renewal; and before embarking on his rescue mission for the world, our Savior spent forty days alone in the desert with his Father.
Forty-day experiences spent with God can cement our desire to give our all to trusting his plans for us. But the ten bad spies led God’s people in just the opposite direction. As a result of their negative report, the Israelites wanted to run back to what God had freed them from, rather than trusting the One who had led them through the Red Sea, and had provided food for their daily needs.
Have you ever had that experience in your own life? Even as dysfunctional as those days of slavery or addiction to something may have been in your life, you were used to it, and you may not have known how to move forward into a life of true freedom. The apostle Paul says something about that:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1, ESV).
As Brad said this past Sunday,
“We can run to the opportunities God presents to us, or run away from them. . . . We run to opportunities not because of who we are, but because of who is with us!”
If you missed the teaching this past Sunday, you can check it out here.
Let’s Get to Work
So, how will you choose to make a difference in someone’s life this week? Here are a few ideas that might help get your juices flowing . . .
—Get involved with a nonprofit ministry
—Teach your kids or grandkids about Jesus
—Join a small group, and make that community a place of refuge
—Donate clothes, food, and supplies for the underprivileged here in our community, our country, or the world
—Greet others that come to Christ’s Church with a smile on your face as you open the door for them
—Rock babies in the church nursery
—Mow your neighbors’ yard or shovel snow from their driveway while they are gone, and don’t tell them who did it
—Donate to a charity
—Get engaged in our student ministry at Christ’s Church, and make a real difference in the lives of teenagers
—Adopt a child in need of a great Christian home
—Do a random act of kindness
—Pay it forward
—Volunteer at a crisis pregnancy center
—Love others who are difficult to love like Jesus would
There is plenty that we can do to make a difference. What are you waiting for?
“Let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith” (Galatians 6:9, 10, NLT).