When it comes to measuring our effectiveness in life it all comes down to two things: do I love God and is that love expressed to my fellow man?
It’s not that we sum up our faith in terms of our actions, but what James, the very brother of Jesus, said rings true: “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” (James 2:18) Faith without works really is dead. And so we must get back to the basics-love God, love people. That is the sum of our mission. It looks different day to day and season to season. It requires me to stretch, to be open to God changing my plans for the benefit of fellow man. It takes a risk sometimes. It causes me to think, to act, to do differently.
My mission, our mission, as Christ followers doesn’t need to be so complicated. We wait around for some form of divine revelation to come before we go out and change the world and we forget that simply stepping out our front door is often enough. Entering fully into our world is how we act to change it. It happens at elementary schools, sports practices, offices, libraries, grocery stores, and right in the middle of our neighborhoods. It happens in the midst of our very real and often messy lives. We get to be missionaries right where we are.
When Jesus was asked about the most important things in life, he answered pretty simply: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. You can’t get any more simple than that.
Somedays my neighbor is my literal neighbor. But some days those neighbors are my children or the barista at Starbucks, or even the person I’ll cross paths with at the grocery store.
And even as I’m writing this, God gives me opportunities to learn the lesson. I have one child who just didn’t want to go to school today, not because of illness. Sometimes you just need a home day, the Lord knows I understand this one. So today my neighbor is that little gal who changed my plans and is in her room buried in bed with a book. I get to love on her today, even if I initially bristled at the though of her staying home. Hey, I needed a home day too.
We overcomplicate things so much. Changing the world is something that we can do, and even do well. I read a very interesting article the other day about a woman who embarked on a social experiment to daily ask a complete stranger an unscripted question. The goal was for her to have more positive social interactions, and as a result relieve stress in her own life. After a month she was completely blown away with her results, and with how much happier she felt overall. I think we can do the same thing with the Great Commission in mind as we engage with those around us in a life giving way. And by doing that we show Jesus without ever having to preach a sermon.