“What Difference Does it Make?”
JULY 27, 2023
It’s hard not to get overwhelmed by the immense level of brokenness all around us.
We see it on display like clothes on a mannequin in a store window. Poverty, hate, sickness, abuse, disasters, and death (to name a few) are plastered across our screens and dropped into our lives.
“I need to do something” shouts out in my mind, but is quickly followed up by “what difference would it really make?” with an even louder and more definitive voice. I’ve felt this tension my entire life and I’m guessing you have too. As Christians who have experienced the receiving end of this through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus friend of sinners, our very being is now engrained with a heart that beats to help. We hate injustice, we despise abuse, we mourn with those who mourn, and yet we are often derailed by one of the greatest lies being told, “You can’t really make a difference. The problems are too great.”
When I hear this incessant, depressing line playing on repeat and suffocating any notion of empathetic movement, I’m often drawn to the story of the Good Samaritan as a first line truth-telling defense.
Why would a stranger go out of his way to help another stranger and enemy? I mean two others passed right by without much thought at all. Didn’t this Samaritan man understand that this act of kindness wouldn’t really change anything; that people will continue to get robbed, beat up, abused, and tossed away on this road and in life? Helping this one man wasn’t going to make any real difference…or would it?
Maybe, just maybe, helping the one is what it’s all about. Maybe, just maybe, this is what God has always intended as a means to share his love and compassion with a broken world. Maybe the idea that you have to lead an army of do-gooders, start a revolutionary non-profit, or hold a CEO position in the justice sector in order to make any real difference is simply a very Americanized elevation of self for the sake of good and not based in the reality 99.9% find ourselves in.
There’s a significant reason Jesus shared this account. Not only does it model the type of kindness and compassion He lived out, it shows his main model of care and change…one person at a time. Think about how many times we see Jesus stop for the one among the many. He heals the one, forgives the one, protects the one, saves the one. Was Jesus flock focused or sheep focused? He was both. When he had the opportunity to influence many he took it, but He also and often made time for the one because they mattered just as much as the many.
In conclusion, brokenness is overwhelming. There’s no shortage and never will be as long as we live. We can either throw our hands up in defeat, or we can love when and where we can remembering that Jesus did the same for us. I would encourage you to do the same thing I challenged myself with this morning; find (at least) one person today that you can encourage, help, support, defend, or take time for, in a meaningful way. Maybe that’s your barista, a neighbor, a family member, or a complete stranger. Don’t undervalue or brush off the difference being made when God’s kids step in for the one among the many, just like Jesus stepped in for you and for me. May God work in us today as He moves through us in our world.