Never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.”
Proverbs 3:1-4 NLT
Peter Drucker, often dubbed “the father of management theory”, once said, “Our mission in life should be to make a positive difference, not to prove how smart or right we are.” Apart from the use of ‘should’, a word I find loaded with guilt, I agree that one can make a positive difference, yet with some caution.
Whenever I hear the phrase “making a positive difference”, images of soup kitchens, humanitarian relief and solving the world’s social and economic ills come to mind. I move into project mode, on the assumption that this will make the difference the world needs. From age 13, long before I chose to follow Jesus, I worked with Oxfam in raising awareness of global inequality. I campaigned and collected donations in my home town. Over the years I observed the scale of the problem, one which didn’t seem to shrink despite the enormous sums of generous donations.
This created an unease within me which in part provoked me to consider Jesus in the first place. I realised even were I to train as an Oxfam field officer (my initial plan), one famine relieved simply ushered in another famine elsewhere. In Jesus, I discovered that there was an unlimited resource of grace and a clear and inspiring call to live an alternative lifestyle to that I’d imbibed from home, school and cultural thought leaders.
At its heart, Jesus’ message is an invitation to serve the interests of those who immediately surround us. This is regardless of social status, economic viability, educational background or religious and ethnic origin. An inspirational, all-encompassing invitation to encourage and befriend those with whom I rub shoulders with every day – my neighbours, in fact.
How do you think the gospel advances in the world?
Lord, give me the opportunities to serve my neighbours so that they may see and know your love, kindness and mercy.