What we do will have consequences. Whether or not we plan to leave a legacy, we will leave one. As long as we live in relationships with others, our actions can make an impact on someone else, good or bad. But must I feel obligated to change the world?
I cannot help but wonder if in even suggesting such a thing, we aren't setting ourselves up for discontent. The majority of us will lead quiet, typical lives. Even with social media giving people a voice, there are still only a few who will leave a lasting impression. The myriad of voices means that only a handful will be remembered. It could very well be that the people we believe today to be the most influential voices in our lives will be unheard of or unremembered in ten years. That isn't meant to discourage. It's a simple fact. I will be remembered by people who know me and love me. How will they remember me? As someone who was more concerned with getting likes on social media or managing to have five seconds of attention because my blog post or photo went viral? Or will I be remembered as someone whose faith was real, no matter how much attention I got?
One of my favourite passages in the New Testament is Romans 12:1-8. After giving his rich, intricate presentation of what it means to be born again, and to belong to Christ, Paul gives one of the most beautiful "therefore's" in all of Scripture: present your bodies as a sacrifice; a living one. And there is more:
- don't be conformed to the world (v2)
- be transformed by the renewing of our minds (v2)
- don't think more highly of ourselves than we ought (v3)
- think as to have sound judgment (v3)
- we are part of one body (v4)
- we do not all have the same function in the body (v4)
- we are members of one another (v5)
- exercise the gifts we have (v6)
We could spend a life time learning to live in light of that passage. Even the simple fact of presenting our bodies as a living sacrifice can take years to accomplish. If I think of my life in Christ as something that must change the world, I may forget about what I'm really exhorted to do. In this day and age of mass information and access to a platform, it can be easy to feel entitled to be more than what we're meant to be. We talk a lot about the beauty of the ordinary, but do we mean others when we say that? Are we prepared to live in obscurity? The fact is, most of us will.
And yet the task ahead of us is extraordinary. It's difficult. It isn't easy to live within the body of Christ. There is sin, division, conflict, and all too often, acrimony. It seems to me it can take an entire lifetime to figure out how to function well within the body of Christ, never mind thoughts about how to change the world. Whether or not I change the world is rather incidental.
Ultimately, God is the one who changes the world. We are vehicles, but he is sovereign and he can take anything and turn it into something for his glory. I know I need to worry more about how I will submit to the ways God is changing me than worrying about whether or not I will change the world. Part of faith is allowing God to do his work and living by faith daily.