Pat and I had the distinct pleasure of being introduced to an amazing lady last night. Listening to her talk about what she was doing, what she was so proud of, showing us pictures of lives that been turned around, and the variety of people she was impacting was like a breath of fresh air blowing through the stale smelling, slightly polluted air of a long closed room. Her primary methodology was teaching the Bible; that coupled with acts of service to an ever-broadening community. One of those venues is a Bible study she conducts for 30 (or so) influential white men. One of them is a federal judge, another is a City Councilman, another a CEO of a manufacturing company, a lawyer, a banker, etc. who have all been meeting together weekly for over two years. She’s is a black female, pushing 65 who is also pastor of a church for around 25 years. The last of our conversation centered around the crying need for Christian activism, particularly among females, for they are the hinge point for activating families … and eventually the husbands. The statement was made by one attendee, by the time the church finally gets involved in a social issue the legislature has already ruled on how it will be handled. (Witness the recent spate of abortion decisions.)
As Pat and I reflected on the conversation from around the table last night our thoughts turned to personal social & political activism and the values (or lack thereof) that drives them. More often than not, what drives social and political activism is a passion to right a wrong, fix a nagging problem, or to fight against a specific ideology that is feared. People rise to these occasions quite riled up to have their voice finally heard and demand their position be immediately adopted. These sort of responses usually lead to heated confrontation, rather than reasoned debate, which further divides the community. This is where we find ourselves today. Congress is totally divided, so nothing gets done. Those we sent to Washington to reach compromises that work for us are deadlocked effectively making incompetent governmental officials now officially incapable of doing their jobs. What a system!
Reflecting on the values and influence this amazing woman wields in her community has yielded a far different take on activism for us. She has created influence through diligently serving those in her community in numerous forms. The children she took under her wing through forming a child care center 25 years ago, are now demonstrating the values she built into them through the daycare and the church. The young adults she mentored and walked though numerous struggles now have children of their own which are being taught the lessons she taught them. The model of life she lived before countless others is now being demonstrated again through those who watched her, then grew up wanting to be like her. She has successfully replicated herself and in so doing has fulfilled the command of Jesus in Matthew 28;19 “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and 20 teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” And she’s not done yet.
So the challenge for each of us is; What sort of influence will your personal activism create? What sort of mark will it leave on those around you? Will it be able to transcend generations, or be exhausted when the immediate battle is over? Will those who respond to the message of your activism be simply confronted, or will they be changed for the better by it? The choice is ours to make.