January 27, 2017 by eneubauer
I have been pondering what to make of all the challenges we face as a nation and world. At times it feels overwhelming and as an optimist I have battled feelings of deep skepticism. It is hard to name the many difficulties we face because naming a difficulty and its priority is often connected to personal perspective, life experience and/or what has captured the national imagination at the moment.
Frontline, the PBS backed investigative series, has featured a series of topics that reveal just how complicated life is at the moment – The ISIS Threat, Syria At War, Election 2016, How The Deck Is Stacked – College Debt, Policing the Police, Locked Up In America, The Zika Outbreak, Concussion Watch – NFL, The Guantanamo Files etc. etc. etc. In addition, there are many disturbing facts regarding the state of the American Middle Class.
A Pew Research study reveals:
…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.
I am not writing today to tell you what to be concerned about nor to minimize what is important to you. However, as a person of faith I am consistently challenged to first look within as a first step in the process of finding solutions to the many challenges we face. I often ask, “How can I ask people to consider changing if I am unwilling to change those things within (attitudes & actions) that hold me back from having a right or biblical perspective?”
Additional Questions I Am Asking:
Do I live out what I profess? Does my public life and actions reflect Jesus, the Gospel and the teachings of the Church? When people see me, including my wife (spouse) and children, do they see Jesus and a life lived in love with the Gospel? Am I focused on others and the common good as a priority? I want to see changes in our world and the many challenges we face. This fact forces me to look within and ask difficult questions.
Dream vs. Reality:
As much as I would love to be the type of leader that gets up in front of mass crowds and inspires those gathered to live in peace and harmony where opportunity is available to all – even the most vulnerable. However, I know that true and lasting change happens when one person, living the Gospel life to the best of his/her ability under God’s grace inspires and/or impacts the life of another individual person. Proof – I still remember the specific, positive impact my college professor (New Testament), graduate school professor, seminary Rector, priest, friar, friend, and family members had on my life. My conversion and continued faith journey would not have been possible without these individual’s investment in my life. It was not the soaring rhetoric of the powerful and famous but the kind words, time spent and guidance given by individuals just like you that made the difference.
Maybe the changes we seek, the changes that our world desperately needs will emanate from the simple changes we (are willing to) make everyday. The changes that enable us to become the people God created us to be – for the sake of others. Impacting others. Loving others. Providing for others. Advocating for others. Befriending others.
The the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, Truly, I say to you, as you did it to the one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25 ESV)
A radical idea…but maybe the change(s) we seek actually begin with us!
Be open, God wants to do something special in this moment.