This morning I turned on the news while I was getting ready. It was a mistake. From terrorism, to hurricanes, to flooding, to football players kneeling or not kneeling, it was just one story after another about how messed up and divided everything seems to be. Hearing all of that left me feeling a bit discouraged by how big the world is, and how many needs it has. Then that discouragement got me wondering about what sort of “global impact” I could really have as an individual. Or what can our little church do? We struggle just to get volunteers for the nursery, so how can we impact this big, challenging world for Christ?
But as I pondered all of that, God reminded me of the early church, and how they faced similar questions. For example, on the Day of Pentecost, there were only 120 believers gathered when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and their world was just as bad as ours, if not worse. They lived under the rule of the godless Roman Empire. Immorality was rampant. The religious establishment was corrupt. Idolatry and pagan worship were openly practiced.
And it wasn't just the culture that was challenging for them. Everywhere first-century Christians went, they were ridiculed, opposed, persecuted, and physically attacked for their beliefs. Yet, within 30 years, those original 120 believers changed a significant part of the world. And they did it without most of the tools that are available to help us today. They didn't have Bibles. They didn’t have huge, mega-church buildings. They didn't have modern technology. The apostle John didn't have a television show. Thomas didn't have a Facebook page. Peter never Tweeted. So the thought of such a small group of folks making a difference to the broken, hurting, people all around them must have felt overwhelming.
So what was their secret? How did they do it? Well, I'm sure there were a lot of different factors involved, but what occurred to me as I finished getting ready this morning is that they were able to have such a dramatic impact on the world because every one of them believed that they were called to do their part. Those first Christians understood that they couldn't rely on pastors, or worship leaders, or missionaries, or non-profit agencies to change the world. Instead, they believed that the gospel message was the only thing that would change their world for good, and so it had to be shared - and they were the ones who needed to do it.
That's still the secret today. Each of us who belongs to Christ has a part to play in the expansion of His Kingdom. I have a part to play. You have a part to play. So we can't just sit back and rely on “professional Christians” to do it. And we don't have to go to deepest, darkest Africa to do it. God's at work all around us. So if we can understand all of that, and embrace it, and put it into practice in our lives, we WILL have an impact on the world around us.
So today, let's ask God to help us understand what our role is in the work He's doing. Let's ask Him to lead us to the right conversations and to put us in the right situations to have an impact for Him today. And then, as He does that, let's ask Him to give us the faith and desire to do our part for Him. Today, let's begin to change the world, starting right where we are.