Can 1 person make a difference?

I have often been told that the reason someone didn’t vote was because “their vote doesn’t make a difference.” The 84% of registered voters that turned out to vote in Afghanistan’s first presidential election in 2004 amidst legitimate death threats would probably disagree.[1] I also think the hanging chad incident of 2000 would also dissuade this belief. However, this idea of unimportance and feeling of apathy is common throughout our society, not just in regards to voting.  Children wonder why intentionally being kind to another (weird) child is a big deal, teenagers justify actions with the excuse “it was just this one time” and as adults, we quickly dismiss the sentimental infomercials asking for your help to save a child. After all, in the grand scheme of life, what difference does it make?

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the needs and injustices of this world. I doubt there is a person that has not been deeply affected by the recent economic downtown. For some, that means going hungry for the first time while for others it means that the dream of college is going to remain a dream and not a reality. Many of us, particularly in the “church world” have been on mission trips to third world countries where we have been emotionally (and spiritually) moved by the extreme poverty that has previously existed for us only in pictures. Couple this with a brief, but intense personal connection with locals and many of us are left feeling helpless, overwhelmed, frustrated and yet determined to change things.  I too have felt this way on several occasions. However, upon returning to my comfortable American lifestyle, I quickly resign myself to writing, emailing or posting pictures on facebook to highlight the injustices that I saw. I am not saying these are bad actions, but is it any wonder that many of us are left feeling helpless?

As I sat down to write this blog, my first thought was to give practical examples of how 1 person has made a difference and then pair that with a call to action, how you can make a difference today. This now seems trite, especially in comparison to the one person who has made an eternal difference, Jesus Christ. Part of me feels like I should end the post here, what more needs to be said? (much like the Helen Keller trump card in Apples to Apples®, politically correct or not) For those of us who are believers, one person has made all of the difference. In fact, He is the reason that there is a difference.

*Side note: I quickly feel this post spinning out of control, about to delve into the theological basis for good and evil so I will try to refrain myself.

If there is no God, no perfect standard of good (holiness), can there really be injustice and evil? If there is not anyone who calls me and compels me to live a life outside of myself, why do I care what happens to anyone else? Obviously, there could be a lot more written about each of these questions, but I will leave that for another day. Possibly.

As it is, I do have a call on my life to live outside of myself. While this may look differently for each of us according to our gifts and passions; there still exists a mandate from the one who gave all to make a difference and die trying. My efforts are not about results, although there will naturally be results within me and outside of me, but about my heart and my obedience. Sure, my $25 dollars to a local entrepreneur is not going to end hunger, slavery, or injustices in the world, but is that a reason to not give? Do I refuse to eat now because I know I will be hungry again in a few hours?

My prayer is this: that we would find satisfaction in the One who gives and not the results or feelings of giving. I in particular need to focus on this because as someone with an “Achiever” personality (from Strengths Finder 2.0), I often want to see and measure results. I want to know specifically that my $25 went to buy books, feed a child or save a life. I do not want to think that it pays for toilet paper in an office or worse yet, that it was misused. My fear exposes that I do not give unconditionally, but instead give to ease a deep dissatisfaction and need within me to glorify myself.

“He has shown you O man what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” – Micah 6:8

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