Dear International Worker… You Can’t Save the World.

You can’t save the world.

You weren’t meant to.

But it’s easy to want to. People don’t know God. Marriages fall apart. Career paths suddenly change. Children rebel. Loved ones have serious health problems. Horrific events scar communities– the stories are on the news everyday.  An endless stream of media bombards us with the world’s sorrows 24/7.

No matter what country, city, or neighborhood you live in, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with seeing needs everywhere. We can’t fix everything. We can’t help everyone. Sometimes we can’t even help ourselves.

But Jesus didn’t ask you to save the world.

Rather, He implores you to be reconciled to God and abide in Him. Rest. This doesn’t mean to cease all activity or stop doing life, but to live in dependance on the One who created you.

Yes, Jesus did tell His disciples:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20, NIV) 

But He never said it was all up to them. There is nothing in the passage about the fate of the world or the eternal salvation of others resting squarely on the disciples’ shoulders.

You’re just a person. An image bearer, beloved and redeemed by God, yes, but you are not all powerful. All of the authority “…in heaven and on earth…” belongs to Jesus. Not you. He said He would be with His disciples, “…always, to the very end of the age.” He knows you need Him. You can’t accomplish His work on your own. He came to rescue humanity–that means you.

If you are in need of rescue by God (and we all are), then you can’t go around trying to save the world and do everything, no matter how deeply you feel the needs of others. Guilt or pressure that comes from not being able to meet every single expectation and need doesn’t come from God. We can’t live fruitful lives passing our hours and days under that kind of pressure.

But what about, “Go…make disciples…baptize them…teach them to obey”…?

What about helping those in need?

Yes, we are meant to do that.

But you cannot:

  • Rescue someone’s eternal soul.
  • Effect true, Biblical change in others’ lives on your own.
  • Spread yourself over an entire community to help people (you are not omnipresent)

So begin with yourself.

Live in fellowship with Jesus, draw strength from Him,  and embrace the changes He is making in you. Let the overflow of His work in you minister to your spouse and family. Bring the circles of people in your daily routines–the gym, school, work, the church you meet with, the neighbors you wave at– before God. The potential for making disciples is happening in your life’s circumstances right now. Realize God is present in them, trust Him to give you the right opportunities, and follow through in obedience when He does. Know that you will make mistakes. His grace will be there when you do.

Instead of trying to save the world or forcing “amazing Christian ministry” things to happen, run into the waiting embrace of your Creator. Share His love and hope with others.

As an international worker, you may feel pressure to perform or do something “significant” to be worthy of your title (whatever that may be).  Maybe you want to prove to yourself and others that you’re worth all the financial and prayer support. Maybe your  life and work are not adding up to everything you think they should be.

Can I remind you of something? It’s not about you.  This can be freeing if you let it.

It’s not about being able to feel you’ve met your own or others’ expectations.  The high ideals you started out with for making  a difference in your host country will change into something better, something more sustainable and culturally fitting if you’re willing to adjust, learn, and wait. Your life means so much more than meeting the manmade “status quo of Christian work.” God wants to carry out His plans, not yours or anyone else’s–no matter how well intentioned the plans may be. And He wants them to be accomplished in His strength.

Our lives in Christ are not formulas to be mastered, then mass produced in order to change our little corners of the world or become successful in a Christian religion. Is that really what you want to be? Is that really what you want to pass on to people around you? There’s no hope in that– only unhealthy pride from feeling you’ve arrived or despair in wondering why you can’t perform perfectly.

But God has given real hope to you and others– and it doesn’t depend on your success or failure to implement a specific ministry agenda.

You can’t save the world. You weren’t meant to.

You can abide in Christ. You can allow His love to empower you as you lead and serve in relationships. You can minister from the overflow of His grace and wisdom in your life.

My prayer is that the starting point you and I live from will be Christ.

©2017 Chrissy Winslow – All Rights Reserved

_____________________________________________________

Father, I can’t save the world. I can’t save anyone– not even myself. I pray that You would be my Source and Motivation for all of life. I don’t want to unintentionally slip into a “performance mentality,” trying to prove I am “worth it”,  attempting to accomplish unrealistic expectations of myself and others. I’m not meant to live that way. I’m meant to abide in You–to experience and enjoy life with You. Every day, fulfill  Your purposes for my life and the lives of those around me. Help me not to become exhausted and disillusioned, trying to bring Your purposes to the world around me through my own power. Daily I stand in need of your forgiveness, love, and grace. I’ve been reconciled to you and you’ve given me real hope–hope that I could never produce on my own. The best gift I can offer the world is what You’ve given me–the understanding of how redemption is found in You.

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