7 ABSOLUTES OF NAVIGATING THE WORLD AROUND US
As we draw nearer and nearer to the Lord’s sacrificial death on the Cross, I find myself contemplating the gift of the Empty Tomb. God has revealed Himself to us and shown us who we are. We are His. This truth calls me into the world to die for it as He did. Proclaiming, “Christ is Risen!” is recognizing that death has been conquered and it is time to live. It’s when I’m able to look up and out into the world at those whom the Lord loves that I remember what truly living looks like. We are called to stand alongside those who need a burden shared and lifted…those who are oppressed, alone, and in need.
We worship a God who gave His life for all and desires to be one with each of us…and for us to be one with each other. The joy of the empty tomb calls us directly to love as He did… to enter into the world as instruments of His peace. How do we navigate the world around us?
- ALWAYS ASK, WHO IS JESUS? The way we respond to what’s happening around us should be based in the truth of God’s love for His people. Within the Orthodox perspective there are varied opinions. Because of this, it’s often difficult to navigate our participation and perspective in politics and social issues. It takes effort and time as well to seek to know the Lord, so that when “what should I do or think?” comes to your mind, you have that deep awareness of Him to direct your thoughts and actions. And when we do speak or act, we must take caution to ensure that we represent His love and mercy for all.
- THE LORD’S WORK IS NOT SOMEONE ELSE’S JOB. Remind yourself daily that you are the hands and feet of Christ. We should each be in awe that the Lord invites us to enter into His work. This will and has to look different for each of us, but the call to go out and share His love with all the world is common. Sometimes that work is for your own children in your own home. For others, it is years in a suffering country with its persecuted people. What’s key is to let this most vital scriptural call be at the heart of all we do: “When you do this to others, you do it to me.”
- THINK BEFORE SHARING YOUR THOUGHTS. We must check our motivations and let go of pushing our own agendas in a realm and manner that isn’t effective. Think about how and where you share your thoughts, and the best way to use your time. Saying nothing at the right time is sometimes more powerful than saying something at the wrong time. It’s not enough that people know where you stand on an issue. It’s more important that people see you stand with them in their suffering.
- PAY ATTENTION TO PEOPLE’S PAIN. It’s easy to say you don’t understand or relate to someone’s pain. But often people in pain speak volumes about the state of affairs in schools, homes, work places, cities, countries, and the world. If people are in pain, we should seek to know more…ask questions…especially if it seems far from us and we feel separate from it.
- LET YOUR ANGER FUEL YOUR LOVE. Righteous anger is the best motivator for advocacy and peace. It should fire us up if people are being pushed aside, stereotyped, and dehumanized. What we must keep in check is what we do with our anger. Are we causing more conflict? Are we making uneducated statements? What we should seek as humans of one world is to work towards healing and peace for others…both internal and external.
- SEEK TO EMPOWER OTHERS. Serving others goes beyond being a voice for the voiceless. It should lead to helping others have a voice and feel empowered. Advocating for people begins with responding. Since responding looks different for each of us, it takes prayer and guidance to know what to do and how. Once you find your way to serve, give the work to God and find ways to pass it on to others. Help others find their voice and their roles.
- TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND PRAY. God is with us. He is. He is with us in the love that comes from hate. He is with us in the community that is formed from extreme division. He is with us when our pain is relieved by a loving response. He is with us when we think He is most distant and He is with us when we feel Him most present. We can’t always understand how things are the way they are and what to do, but we can start with asking Him. And trusting Him. Start with love, not fear. Start with listening, not speaking. Start with doing what you can and let God worry about the choices of others. Start by waking up and going to bed knowing that there is a world coming where there is only peace, only comfort, and only one God with His people gathered around Him. Now, let’s do what we can to bring the Kingdom into this world.