Here at #LiveFully, we love to talk about transformation, not just personally, but culturally as well. Today’s video is a quintessential example of the cultural impact that is possible when people are united by a vision to serve a community (and more broadly, an entire country).

I am so proud of the filmmaker, and our dear friend, Mary Claire Stewart (@maryclairephoto, www.maryclairephoto.com), as well as my wife Erin Burchik, who had the vision and passion to drive this video project from the beginning. Most of all, we are all so proud of our friends Berat and Valdete Gegaj, who have committed their lives to serve their country of Kosovo.

This is a short documentary film about a beautiful friendship that has formed between two cities – Lilburn, Georgia, USA, and Suhareke, Kosovo. Kosovo Hope, a non-profit organization in Kosovo, partners with Americans to host a summer camp for Kosovar students. An extensive selection process takes place during camp to chose 25 students to be a part of the Kosovo Hope Exchange Program, where they are given the opportunity to study English in American for a month while living with host families. This is the story of some of those students and the many people who are bringing hope to the next generation.

For more information or to find out how you can be a part of Kosovo Hope, email berat.gegaj@gmail.com

It’s been an interesting few weeks on social media. Newsfeeds have been flooded with content revolving around ISIS, Robin Williams, Ferguson, and of course, the Ice Bucket Challenge. Many people have rejoiced at seeing such attention drawn to things like ALS, but others have had a more skeptical view.

I recently learned a new term, “slactivism.” Essentially, it means this: when you discover a problem in the world, you do nothing more than share a link or video on your social media. Slactivism is all about awareness, but rarely about actual action. For this reason, some people have criticized things like the ice bucket challenge.

Before moving forward, let me just say that I have nothing against building awareness. I work in marketing and generating awareness has actually been my number one priority for the last two years. Awareness is important, because without awareness there is no action. I definitely support posting things to social media, and I love seeing how something as silly as a bucket of ice water can unite people and change the way a nation perceives a horrible disease like ALS.

I also support discussion, especially when there is an event like what has been happening in Ferguson, Missouri. Even if we don’t know all the facts, it is vital that we communicate with each other and work to understand the broken world we live in. Thabiti Anyabwile, for instance, explains how speaking out has helped challenge and clarify his position on how the Gospel should transform the situation in Ferguson.

Awareness and communication are good things, but we need to be wary of doing nothing more than talk. I majored in philosophy at the University of Georgia. I remember students would hang around Peabody hall and discuss how they would solve world hunger or politics or family structures. The only problem was, they never left the hallways of the school. They just sat there, smugly pretending they knew how to fix everything.

I’m all about awareness, but I want that awareness to lead to action. Here are 7 ways you can ensure that you don’t become a slactivist:

1) Don’t Forget

It’s amazing how quickly we forget things. You might read a story about sex slavery in Thailand that upsets you. You share the story online, and you might even pray about it. But how will you feel in 2 hours? In 2 days? Or 2 weeks? The danger of social media is the mass quantity of messages you hear, and because of this it’s hard to keep anything in focus. When you truly desire to change something, don’t let the next Miley Cyrus publicity stunt replace it in your memory. Write it down in your prayer journal, pray about it daily, and keep looking for ways to make a difference.

2) Put your money where your mouth is

Many causes require more than word-of-mouth, they require funding. Philippians 1:3-6 says this, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Most scholars believe that this “partnership” Paul refers to is a financial one. Later on, Paul refers to their donations as “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”

The reality is, you can’t be everywhere and help everyone. But you can support people who are serving in places you can’t reach. Do take the time to research and consider the organizations and people you choose to give to, and remember that God will carry the work you helped start with giving unto completion.

3) Get your hands dirty in your local community

You may not be able to resolve racial tensions in Ferguson, but you can work to increase freedom in your own community. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the problems of the world – there are so many issues I cannot possibly solve them all. The reality is I’m not supposed to solve everything. I can, however, actually make a difference in my own neighborhood, and so can you. Engage with the people in your life and seek opportunities to change things.

4) Actually go to the community in need

If there is a place or situation God has truly laid on your heart, prayerfully consider actually going to that community. The older I get, the more I realize that no problem has a silver bullet solution. If you truly want to make a difference, you will need to build relationships and listen and work for an extended period of time. This is no small challenge and requires substantial commitment. Most likely God is calling you to your own community, but every so often, He calls people to another city or country.

5) Choose Carefully

Being a slactivist for some causes is perfectly fine, as long as you’re still an activist for something. Becoming an activist takes time, however, so you must choose carefully. I am horrible at this and frequently spread myself too thin. Don’t make this mistake, but instead bathe all your decisions in prayer and choose how you will make a difference with wisdom. A while back, Brian wrote a helpful guide to identifying your calling that is an excellent start.

6) Remember that prayer actually works

I sometimes feel like prayer is a cop-out, like I’m not really doing anything. But again, the Bible is clear that prayer matters and God listens. The great revivals were all preceded by outpourings of prayer, and nothing we do can compare with God’s ability. If anything, I need to pray more. I often pray for something once and then forget about it. But we must make every effort to pray with passion for God to bring healing, justice, and peace.

7) Make Disciples

Jesus made a famous command (or commission) before leaving us in Matthew 28. It wasn’t to go and post stories to social media, but rather “Go and make disciples.” There is nothing short and sweet about discipleship: it requires time and life-on-life relationships. Very few of us will ever be able to impact millions or billions of people at once, however, we can each have a deep influence on 4 or 5 people in our life. Once you have invested in others, once you have changed their lives, they can begin discipling people as well and you will begin to see multiplication.

Discipleship is the method Jesus gave us to change the world. A pastor in Atlanta, Randy Pope, oversees a congregation with more than 5,000 members. In his book, Insourcing, he actually states that if the elders came to him and said, “you must choose between pastoring the church and discipling your small group,” he would choose discipleship. Why? Because it works – it changes lives, families, and even communities.

Leave a comment: What do you think about slactivism?

Img source: By Rauglothgor (Own work) CC-BY-SA-4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Fave Five is a collection of our favorite links from the week. Leave a comment if you’d like to share something we missed!

1) Favorite Squirrel: This guy:

2) Favorite Cat: Mulder the cat who could open a door

3) Favorite List: Organizations who are helping refugees in Northern Iraq

4) Favorite Battle with Reality: “I don’t want him to grow up!”

5) Favorite Movie Trailer: UP (if directed by Michael Bay, the director of Transformers)

6) Favorite Superhero: Spiderman in Atlanta (Bonus since we missed last week)

This past weekend I was reminded how amazing God is.

For those of you who don’t know, I live in Christchurch, New Zealand. It’s winter here, and they have some impressive mountains. Snow skiing is my favorite activity of all time, but growing up in Atlanta didn’t present many opportunities. New Zealand, however, is another story.

We drove down to the town of Wanaka and spent two days on the slopes. The weather and the scenery were unbelievable: blue skies, clear lakes, snow capped peaks. It was like Psalms 104 happened in front of my very eyes. I spent the entire two days with my jaw in a permanently dropped position.

Treble Cone overlooking Lake Wanaka

And the crazy thing is, the trip almost didn’t happen. Why? Because it was inconvenient.

We have no vacation days left, which means we couldn’t take a day off work. In order to ski two days, we had to drive 5 hours after work on Friday and then 6 hours after skiing on Sunday. We pitched the idea to people, and most said we were crazy.

But once I was outside, surrounded by God’s incredible creation, I had no regrets. It was one of my favorite weekends of all time, and I couldn’t help but remember one of the first lessons I learned when we moved to New Zealand:

A full life will not come looking for you. You need to actually get up and go after it.

Step outside your front door

When we arrived at our new home, I was somewhat naive about this. It was a land filled with mountains, glaciers, rivers, Lord of the Rings locations, and more. I just expected to walk off the plane and into an adventure. But after being here a few weeks, the most exciting thing we had done was a bike ride through the park.

I sat on the couch in a bad mood, wondering why we hadn’t experienced more adventure. We came out here to live fully! The answer to my problem, however, was right below me. Since arriving, we had made little effort to get off our couch and out into the world.

We didn’t come here on vacation, we came here to establish a life. But despite the epic nature of our new country, the life we were establishing was just boring. I realized that it does not matter where you are – Atlanta or New Zealand – unless you make the effort to live fully, you won’t. 

Here are a few practical things I noticed this weekend that contribute to living fully. It is by no means an exhaustive list, but definitely part of making the effort:

6 Keys for Living Fully

1) Embrace the inconvenience: Our culture loves convenience. From where I sit, I have a nice footrest, can turn on the television, watch a Braves game, surf the internet, play candy crush, read a book, and more. Most of my greatest memories, however, did not occur because of convenience. They took work, effort, and a willingness to get out of my comfort zone. If there is an idea bouncing around in your heart or mind, but you aren’t sure it’s worth the effort, then just stop debating and go for it. You’ll either love it or learn from it, but either way it will be better than doing nothing.

2) Go with People: God created us for community. While things like social media and texting can keep us connected, they can never replace genuine relationships. I find that most things in life (eating, traveling, working, exercising, worship, etc) are always better when done with good friends. Interestingly, I also find that good friendships are created when you do most of those things in life with people. Our 6 hour, post skiing car ride was fantastic – we were exhausted, but we ate burritos and talked about the important things in life the entire way.

3) Enjoy Creation: I find it so much easier to connect with God while in nature. As Psalms 19:1says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” No matter where you live, I believe you can find the beauties of God’s creation. It could be in the mountains or beach a few hours from home, or it could be in your neighborhood park. It could be a local river, or it could be the people in your life God has made. Our first home was a garden, we should make efforts to spend time in His creation.

4) Be a bit reckless: I could get in trouble for this, so let me clarify: don’t do anything illegal or to hurt others. That being said, sometimes you need to go against conventional wisdom if you want to live fully. Some would consider a weekend trip to Wanaka reckless: we might be tired at work on Monday, it could be horrible weather, we won’t have time to get chores done, and so on. The trip was a bit of a gamble, particularly in regards to weather, but the reward was totally worth the risk. Following Jesus also goes against conventional wisdom, but this time, the reward is infinitely greater and more secure because of his love for us.

5) The Experiences: I find most people prefer to spend money on material goods instead of experiences. We obviously need some material goods, like food and clothing, but I find experiences so much more valuable than having the latest iPad or biggest television. Everyone has limited finances, but I highly recommend you give priority to experiences you can share with people you love. The memories and the moments will last so much longer than the latest tech gadget.

6) Take time to soak in God’s glory: It can be easy to take things for granted. Sometimes we get so focussed on our particular tasks for the day that we fail to notice the beauty of what God has done in our lives. As I said, I love skiing and wanted to get as many runs in as possible, but I kept forcing myself to stop and look around and soak in God’s goodness. What has God done in your life that you might be missing? How is He working in the people around you? In the city or town you live in? Life is busy, but we must always find the time to pause and give thanks and praise for what He has done.

Your turn: What is your favorite activity when you want to live fully?

I think sometimes we like to believe the world is basically a good place filled with good people. The Bible tells a different story: “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” In Western Culture, we forget how bad sin can really be. But for our Christian brothers and sisters in Northern Iraq right now, they must literally flee for their lives because of sin’s cruelty.

A growing group of militants who call themselves the Islamic State (IS) and used to call themselves the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have been making the news recently for beheading children, raping and murdering women, enslaving or killing men, and seeking to wipe out entire people groups. This is mass genocide and it is a terrible tragedy.

Large populations of Christians are being killed. Another religious group, called the Yazidis, are also being wiped out. Many have three choices: Convert to Islam, die, or flee. There is plenty of news coverage on this, and you’ve probably seen how horrific it is. I’ve been torn up for the last couple days thinking about this terrible persecution. I want to help make a difference, but I wasn’t exactly sure how for two reasons.

First, I struggle with global news because It is filled with problems occurring on the other side of the world, and frankly, I can’t really do much about them. And yet, when a group like ISIS is at large we simply cannot just sit around and do nothing.

Secondly, when I read these stories, my first thought is that we need to bomb these monsters into oblivion. They are doing seriously evil things and must be stopped. But I am somewhat troubled by the words of Jesus, “love your enemy.” IS is clearly an enemy of God’s people, so how do we balance this? The church endured terrible persecution, even in the Bible, but they never seemed to fight back. How do we stop them and love them at the same time?

I’ve done a fair amount of thinking and research on these two questions. To be honest, I’m still not sure of all the answers, and would love some comments with your thinking, but here are 6 ways you can actually do something to make a difference:

1) Love your enemy:

Romans 12:14-21 is a riveting passage in which Paul calls us to love our enemies. Here are a couple verses that highlight this: 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

From this it is clear, as Christians we are called to love the Islamic State. This seems insane, and I almost feel dirty saying it, but it’s the truth. We need to realize what it means, however. Loving someone does not mean you encourage or allow them to continue in their sin. It means we point them to Jesus and his saving grace. Members of the IS are evil, but Jesus died for them, and ultimately he is the only one who can change them. You will probably never meet a member of IS, but you can pray that they would repent and believe the truth.

2) Call on the government for justice:

Can you love someone and demand justice be served against them? Of course – God does this often.

I was talking with my friend Keith and he pointed out that Romans 12 is followed immediately by a passage where Paul explains one of God’s systems for dealing with justice. Romans 13:1-4 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

God has instituted the governments of the world to carry His wrath on the wrongdoer. ISIS definitely qualifies as a wrongdoer, and so we should be calling the governments of the world to bring justice. The US recently approved airstrikes on the terror group, and this is certainly a start, but more is needed. I can’t pretend to be a politician and know the answers, but our leaders will listen if we unite in this cause. So contact your congressman or the White House or Parliament or whoever is in charge of your nation, and call for action! One of the quickest and easiest ways is to sign this White House petition. You can also contact your congressman directly using this website - it will take 2 minutes and you will make a difference, so just go do it!

3) Love your neighbor:

This is more of a proactive approach than a reactive approach. ISIS is nothing new, there are many terrible examples of genocide throughout history. Kosovo, Rwanda, Cambodia, the Holocaust, and the list could go on. If we love our neighbor, we can help prevent things like this in the future.

Omar Shafik Hammami grew up as a Southern Baptist in Alabama. In 2012 he earned a spot on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list because of his work for the Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabaab. How did this happen? I don’t really know, but I do believe that if he had truly experienced the love of Christ in his own neighborhood, he would not have gone down the same path. So love your neighbor, you are an ambassador for Christ and can change the course of their future, and maybe the future of many others.

4) Support Relief Efforts:

Not only do we need to stop ISIS, but we need to help the people who are suffering at their hands. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Northern Iraq need help, and we should work to give it to them. Not only that, but we should support the other minorities in the area as well. Again, one way you can do this is by contacting your congressman or government leader.

I would also suggest giving to relief organizations like Open Doors. I’ve had trouble finding many other direct donation opportunities, so if you know of any, please share it in the comments. (Update: Nanci commented below with this link and recommended Samaritan’s Purse).

5) Don’t stereotype:

There is always a temptation when a group called the “Islamic State” starts killing people. While some will want to blame everyone who belongs to Islam for this, we should not make that mistake. I’ve visited Kosovo twice, where in the 90′s a group of Serbians killed thousands of Muslims. Many Kosovar had to flee their homes and lost family members at the hands of their enemy. During my two trips, I became friends with many Kosovars. I was shocked and appalled to hear that many of their family and friends were killed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Now, a group of “Christians” committed that atrocity, and again some would want to blame all Christians for that act of genocide. But we know this is not true Christianity. In the same way, we know that all Muslims do not support what ISIS is doing. In fact, many Muslims are being hurt and killed by these terrorists. So continue to love, encourage, and pray for your Muslim neighbors.

6) Pray and Fast:

This is, perhaps, the most important of all. Pray genuinely matters, and the Bible has multiple instances where God fights for his people in the Bible. In 2 Chronicles 20, King Jehoshaphat calls the people to pray and fast so that God would rescue them from Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir. God hears their prayer, and when Israel goes out to battle, God puts their enemy into confusion and they all kill themselves.

In 2 Kings 19, King Hezekiah prays to the Lord to rescue them from the Assyrians. Again, the Lord answers his people, this time in an even more miraculous way. Here is what vs. 35 says, “And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies.

We should be praying for the salvation of people from ISIS in the same way we would pray if ISIS were outside our front door. We must plea with passion for God to intervene, and we must believe he can make a difference. The same God who threw the armies of Ammon and Moab into confusion and sent his angel to destroy the Assyrians is the same God today. How awesome would it be if the same thing happened today? What if ISIS turned on itself? God can and will bring justice, let us pray (and even fast) and ask Him to bring it soon. Garret Kell has put together a Scripture based prayer for the situation.

I’m not very good at fasting, but when the need is this great I think it is worth the effort. Not only that, it helps (in a very, very small way) to identify with the people who are suffering in Iraq. If you’d like to join me, spend some time fasting this week (it could be food, but doesn’t need to be – just make sure it’s a sacrifice). During the time you save, pray for relief and justice, and I believe if we unite as a global community of Christians for this, God will not allow the prayers to be wasted.

Your turn: What do you think we could be doing about ISIS?

The Fave Five is a collection of our favorite links from the week. Leave a comment if you’d like to share something we missed!

1) Favorite Painting: This guy (David Garibaldi) who painted Jesus in less than 2 minutes

2) Favorite Photo Collection: 15 Dogs diving in water after balls

3) Favorite Birth announcement (and Coke commercial): #Shareacoke

4) Favorite Sermon: How to know God (and why it is not an anti-rational experience) by Tim Keller

5) Favorite Commercial: How to Dad

 

The first movie trailer for 50 Shades of Grey was released last week. It has already received over 20 million views on youtube. It’s no surprise, the books were extremely successful and have sold over 60 million copies. The trilogy is a sensation. At #LiveFully we want to constantly engage with culture, but I think we need to ask ourselves, should Christians watch 50 Shades of Grey?

50-Shades-of-Grey-Movie

If you don’t know what it’s about, I can’t tell you much. I haven’t read the book, but I did glance at Wikipedia, skimmed the Amazon summary, and read a Time magazine article. From what I gather, it features a pretty simple plot: a girl (Ana) likes a guy (Christian) and they start having lots of sex. Ana wants a romance filled with hugs and kisses, while Christian wants to bind her and control her. The book features “sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.” It has also been dubbed, “mommy porn.” 

From that description, I think the answer is pretty clear: Christians should not read or watch 50 Shades of Grey.

If you need more convincing, I’ve got 5 reasons you shouldn’t watch (or read) 50 Shades of Grey. One of our convictions is that followers of Jesus should be most recognized for what they contribute to the world instead of what they are against in the world. I don’t want to just rant about why you shouldn’t engage with 50 Shades of Grey (or any entertainment that contains lots of sexually explicit content), but I’ll also offer the #LiveFully biblical alternative.

1) Every view is a vote

Do you know how Hollywood determines what movies they’ll make? It’s not about art – it’s about money. Every time you watch a youtube video, buy a ticket, or rent a dvd you cast a vote for a particular type of movie. If 50 Shades of Grey rakes in a ton of cash, you can be sure that Hollywood will start to pump out more films just like it. If, however, it flops or has mediocre results, then they won’t even make the sequel.

This is actually quite empowering, you can influence the types of films that are being made. By choosing to watch uplifting films (these could be purely Christian movies like God’s not Dead, but also positive movies like How to Train Your Dragon or Captain America) you are telling Hollywood, “I want more positive movies and less explicit ones.” In all seriousness, the evidence proves this actually works. So don’t support 50 Shades of Grey, choose instead to support films that are both high quality and promote values that will help our culture #LiveFully.

2) Sex should be awesome

Culture looks at a Christian speaking negatively about 50 Shades of Grey and assumes it is because we’re just “prudes” who don’t want to talk about sex. Scripture, however, has a lot to say about sex, and it’s clear that it should be AWESOME. There is an entire book of the Bible, Song of Solomon, that focuses on the pleasure and benefits of a healthy sexual relationship.

So when I say we should avoid things like 50 Shades of Grey it’s not because I’m against sex. I love sex. I’m just vehemently against 50 Shades of Grey type of sex that is about controlling and hurting people. When we fill our hearts and minds with twisted messages about sex, it isn’t going to improve our sex lives, but make them worse. I’d rather that not happen.

3) Women deserve respect

Any book that features a woman desperate to earn the love of a man that wants to put her in bondage is a problem. Women are made in the image of God and should be served and cared for, not controlled and dominated. 50 Shades of Grey demeans women, so please don’t support it. Choose instead to love, support, and encourage the women in your life. Choose to watch and read stories that show women being smart, capable, and making a difference.

4) Men deserve respect

Not only does 50 Shades of Grey demean women, but it also demeans men. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to see men being depicted as nothing more than creatures obsessed with sex and power. Men are also made in the image of God, and we should we should encourage the men in our lives and support stories that inspire them to live more like Christ.

5) Stories should be better

My limited research has led me to conclude that 50 Shades of Grey is poorly written. The Time Magazine article quotes the book and then has some brilliant commentary:

“Did you give him our address?”
“No, but stalking is one of his specialties,” I muse matter-of-factly.
Kate’s brow knits further.

That’s right: This is the kind of a book where, instead of saying things, characters muse them, and they are somehow able to muse them matter-of-factly. And these matter-of-fact musings cause other characters’ brows—which of course were already knitted—to knit still further. The book is over five hundred pages long and the whole thing is written like that. If Jane Austen (another bestselling female British author) came back to life and read this book, she would kill herself.

There is a funny moment in Seinfeld where Jerry complains to a priest about a friend who converted to Judaism so he could make Jewish jokes. The priest asks him, “and this offends you as a Jewish person?” Jerry responds by saying, “no, it offends me as a comedian.”

50 Shades of Grey should offend you for it’s sexually explicit content. But it should also offend you because as an artist. The story is a joke, and anyone who has ever attempted to write something or create a short film should be angry that this story gets to see the light of day.

Conclusion

If you try hard enough, you can create some justifications for watching this movie or reading the book. Ultimately, however, I hope you choose to avoid it. Cast your vote and support quality films that are both works of art and contain uplifting messages. Don’t settle for stories that demean sex, men, and women. Instead, seek after Jesus, encourage others to do the same, and embrace the full life he offers.

1) Favorite Website: The World’s Worst Website Ever

2) Favorite Retelling of a Parable: Kid Bible Stories

3) Favorite Course: AP Drivers Ed.

4) Favorite Movie Trailer (maybe ever): Interstellar

5) Other Favorite Movie Trailer: The Battle of Five Armies

Got a favorite link you want to share with us? Leave a comment!

 

As we said last week, we want #LiveFully to be part of a Kingdom movement that makes communities stronger. We want to live as Kingdom ambassadors by loving others, spreading peace, and putting broken things back together.

We need to be careful, however, not to forget the one thing that really matters if we hope to bring God’s Kingdom to our neighborhoods, the nations, and the next generation. Many Christians today are passionate about things like feeding the hungry, setting captives free, and rebuilding homes. These are all great and worthwhile Kingdom causes, and by no means am I wanting to discourage you from those things.

What is the one thing?

img source: http://unsplash.com/

The problem, however, is that I’ve heard many Christians say, “all that really matters is that we love people.” Again, loving people is important, but it is only the second greatest commandment. Jesus gives us the first and greatest commandment in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” 

You want to experience Kingdom living in your community? Then start by loving the King. Unfortunately, many of us focus so much on work and service (both good things!) that we forget about Jesus. In Luke 10:38-42, we see this happening inside the home of Mary and Martha.

“One thing is necessary”

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Most of us know how Martha felt. As a teenager, I remember my mother telling my sister, brother, and me to clean the kitchen. It was anarchy, a constant battle of pointing fingers. “I’ve already done the dishes, Lindsey hasn’t done anything!” and “How come Evan doesn’t have to sweep the floor?” and “Why is Taylor playing video games already?”

Martha is busy serving. She is working to feed people, create a comfortable home, and make people happier. Her sister, on the other hand, is doing nothing but sit at the feet of Jesus. When I first read this story, I was surprised that Jesus did not take Martha’s side. I expected him to tell Mary, “you need to help your sister.”

Instead, he responded with something completely revolutionary, “one thing is necessary.

If we hope to represent God’s Kingdom well, if we want to make our communities stronger, if we want to love people with the love of Christ then there is only one thing that is necessary: we must sit at the feet of Jesus. 

Some will argue that service is more important, but Jesus is clear. We are to seek the King above all other things.

Life at the Feet of Jesus

When we choose to sit at his feet, several amazing things happen.

  1. Our relationship with him grows stronger: Relationships are built upon the bricks of respect and quality time. The better we know Jesus, the better we’ll be able to represent him to the world.
  2. We become more like Jesus: The more time I spend around someone, the more I become like them. I have found this to be true of good people and bad – we are influenced by those we draw near to. The more time we spend at Christ’s feet, the more his Spirit can work in our hearts to transform us into his image. As we become more like Jesus, it will become impossible not to represent the Kingdom well.
  3. Our hearts for others will grow: Jesus is the perfect example of love. He is love. Sitting at his feet will only increase our capacity to love others. 

We may be tempted to think, “if I focus all my energies on Jesus, then I won’t ever spend time loving people.” But this is clearly not the case. By focusing on Jesus, our capacity to help and love others can only increase. It is impossible to love Jesus and not love people. When we put him first, serving others will cease to be a chore, and start to become one of our greatest joys.

This can actually be rather comforting. I want to help make the world a better place, but I often get overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. But Jesus makes it simple: we start with Him. He will take care of the calling, the details, the gifting, and the passion. We need to focus on Him.

In the future, as we get practical about building communities and living fully, don’t forget the foundation. It starts with seeking Jesus with your whole heart. If you do that, you’ll be enabled beyond belief to change the world. 

Leave a comment: What is your favorite way to connect with Jesus?

1. Favorite Article: Being Rich isn’t as awesome as you think

2. Favorite Business Philosophy: Lift as you climb

3. Favorite Twitter account: If you’re tired of links that serve no other purpose than to make you click, then you need to follow @SavedYouAClick

4. Favorite workout: Fungo brothers

5. Favorite reason to love others: This commercial