I sat in my car and sighed. So many issues in the world. And now they want me to give up straws to save the planet. It was too much. The issues facing our world are so complex; how could I be expected to sort it all out?
And then the Spirit of God cleared his throat.
Think again, he said. (Not out loud, in case you’re wondering.)
If we believe that our mission as followers of Jesus is to live out the Great Commandments—love God with all of our being and to love others as we love ourselves—the “what to do” becomes easy.
I can ask what the loving action would be if I were the one affected. For instance:
- Would I want to go hungry? Of course not, so I should try to ensure others don’t go hungry either.
- Would I want my child to get a great education? Yes, yes, I would. In fact, I’d insist on it. So I should be just as insistent that children in poorer areas receive all the supplies and equipment and facilities and well-prepared teachers they need to succeed.
- Would I want my home to be flooded because sea levels are rising? No, I would not (if I lived by the sea). Therefore I ought to be willing to do what I can to prevent those rising sea levels.
See how this works? For each of those, the answer is easy (even the giving-up-straws one because the sea turtles are my “neighbor” too.)
Rarely is the answer to the question complex. What’s difficult isn’t the knowing, it’s the doing. It’s the choosing to do what is hard, what is not comfortable, what pinches my preferences.
I have the same issue when it comes to eating healthfully. It’s not that I don’t know what I should and shouldn’t eat. (Let’s get real—I probably know the calorie count of most of the foods I encounter in a given day!) I just don’t want to choose to eat that way. It’s hard to make the choice because my wants, my comforts, my preferences, get in the way.
I want my way, and I don’t want to choose the hard way.
I haven’t given up straws yet. Maybe I never will. But I at least need to own the choice not to do so isn’t because the issue is too complex.
It’s because obedience is so hard.