I hope that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends. We had a great time together and such a feast! Now the days are getting shorter and the nights colder, and it is that special time of the year to remember the coming of Jesus - both in looking back to his birth so long ago in Bethlehem, and then looking ahead to someday when He comes again in glory. All through Advent, we will look at the concept of waiting well.
Let's finish that thought about changing the world. Two weeks ago I mentioned a story told about one of my favorite writers of all time, G.K. Chesterton. It is said that he was once posed the question, “What is wrong with the world today?” His legendary answer was, simply, “Dear Sir, I am. Yours, G.K. Chesterton.” The idea is that if anyone really wants to change the world, a great starting point is with myself - the only person I can actually do anything about. But in the book he wrote in response to the question, What's Wrong With the World, Chesterton makes an interesting supposition - maybe we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps, “What is wrong is that we do not ask what is right.
It is a sad reality that the world and all of its inhabitants live in a fallen state due to the infection of sin. But even that cannot change the fact that "The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it." (Psalm 24) This good earth belongs to the King of Universe. Also, every man, woman, and child was lovingly, thoughtfully created by God, in His own image and for His pleasure. What every one of us needs is much less of what is wrong with the world and much more of what is right in the world.
We can all agree that abandoned, unloved things shrivel and die. This is true of cities, buildings, plants, pets - and people. It is too easy to turn away from something or someone who is ugly and sharp and hard. It is too easy to think it is someone else's problem.
Anyone at all can see what is wrong with a person or a place. Here is the challenge - will we be the kind of people who choose instead to take the time to look for what is right and true?
The Bible tells us that still remaining in this world are faith, hope, and love. Christians who wield these powerful virtues can bring change to the people and places they encounter. That family member or co-worker or neighbor who is so angry and full of bitterness? Instead of seeing only the bad and walking away, take time and really get to know them - there is something of God's Image in their life. It might be steadfastness or bravery, or a wonderful talent, or even a great sense of humor. Find that thing and honor it, and watch the Lord work on their heart. Show them the love and patience of God. This takes a lot of time and can be quite difficult, but think how patient God has been with each of us - we can gladly afford someone else the same.
What is right with the world? A perfect world would be all people knowing that they are loved by God and loving Him in return, each person loved and safe in their families, everyone with a purposeful and fulfilling job to do, and everyone loving his neighbor as himself. We see glimpses of all of these things and can take the responsibility to see that there is more everyday of all that is right in the world. As Samwise Gamgee said on the long journey to Mordor, “There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it's worth fighting for.”
P.S. If you have never read anything by Chesterton, I recommend his Father Brown series of short stories as a starting point. Also, that last line seems just tossed in, but this whole thought of fighting for what is right in the world is a major theme of The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien - if you have never read those books, I really encourage you to give them a try!
Hi! I'm Mary - mother to two wonderful grown daughters, wife to an incredible husband, and loving our life in the piney woods of Texas... (read more!)
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