How Do We Respond? by Tony Brackemyre

Tony Brackemyre   -  

    A few weeks ago I read this quote on a Youth Pastor’s Instagram story: “Today’s Christian will be judged more on the quality of their Christianity than on the truth of their claims.” (John Drane)

    Now, I don’t really know who John Drane is or when he said this, but I think his observation is fitting for us today. It doesn’t take an expert on culture to recognize that we are living in tenuous times. Just take a quick glance at social or mainstream media and you get the feeling that everyone has an opinion on just about every issue. Scroll through your Facebook feed or catch the latest news clip and you will hear thoughts on politics, Presidential debates, masks, COVID-19, schools, social justice and so much more.

    The fall out from the last several months is a rise in anxiety, stress and mental health challenges. One source tells us that one-third of the overall US population will be diagnosed with an anxiety order at some point in their lives. Along with that, mental heath hotlines have seen a 40% increase in calls this year. People are feeling the weight of what is taking place in our culture.

    As followers of Jesus, how do we respond to what we see going on around us? How do we live and act in a stress-filled, opinion ridden and seemingly divided culture?

    When we started up Small Groups this school year for our junior high and high school students, we talked about three words that we wanted to see our students and leaders put into action. These three words feel like an appropriate response to what we are seeing in our society and reflect what we see in scripture.

    The three words are PRAY, CARE, SHARE.

    Those three words become action when we put them into the form of a question:

    How can I PRAY specifically for those around me?

    How can I CARE for those I am praying for?

    How can I SHARE the Good News of Jesus with those I am praying for and caring for?

    Our families started the school year in a pretty unique way. Many of our students were only attending school in-person two days out of the week. The other three days education was done online.

Some of our students began the school year in a completely virtual setting.

The students who were meeting in-person had to wear masks and operate in classrooms set up for social distancing.

Add into that the change to family schedules brought on by the new school reality, the limitations on some of the extra-curricular activities and the cancellation of others. Not really the ideal beginning for a new school year.

While this time in our history has presented a number of challenges, it also gives followers of Jesus an opportunity to act like Jesus.

Back to John Drane’s observation: “Today’s Christian will be judged more on the quality of their Christianity than on the truth of their claims.”

We don’t really need to hear more opinions, but we would like to be heard by someone.

Most people don’t need to be told who to vote for, but they would like to be cared for.

Those around us don’t need our clever insights, but they could use our prayers.

Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”

Philippians 2:3-4 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.”

These anxiety and opinion filled times position us to live out those scriptures. As we work, go to school, post on our Facebook and Instagram accounts and interact with those around us, may we look for ways to put those three words into practice.

This week give some thought to how you would answer those questions:

How can I PRAY specifically for those around me?

    How can I CARE for those who I am praying for?

    How can I SHARE the Good News of Jesus with those I am praying for and caring for?

Then, as you go through this week, try to do those things. Put them into practice.

Make it a point to pray for your classmates or co-workers. Seek to listen and serve rather than to be heard.

Find specific, practical ways you can care for them, even if it is just asking them how you can help. 

As you do, it can open the door to share how Jesus has made a difference in your life.