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. Even 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. Engage daily with Jesus in the Scriptures. Bring Jesus along with you in prayer as you navigate your day, and He will provide the clarity you need to respond to the situations you encounter. When you don’t know what to think or do, seek Him and the truth of who He is.
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 and ask questions, especially if the pain seems far from us and we feel separate from it. The more we draw near to others, the more we will understand their experience. Divisions and connections are both established intentionally. What we want to build is our choice.
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. Saying nothing at the right time is sometimes more powerful than saying something at the wrong time. Listen to understand, not to respond. The more open you are to the perspectives and experiences of others, the more fruitful it will be when it’s your time to speak. Here are some things to consider:
- Don’t share as a reaction. Take time to respond…even if you take just one breath. Stay calm when shocking ideas or stories are presented.
- Let others be right. Let go of always wanting to be right, so when it matters, you’ll be heard.
- 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.
Speak with your life first. Jesus never asked anyone to do anything He didn’t do first. If you feel strongly about something, do something. Don’t worry about convincing everyone else. Jesus called a few. Most just followed.
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 internal peace and peace with others.
Wake up and go to bed with 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.