At some point, I’m either going to have to stop attending Invisible Children events or stow away on a cruise ship headed for sunny Northern Uganda. Every time I watch a video or hear someone speak about the injustices perpetrated there – or in any number of countries – I feel compelled to fight it. I want to commit acts of greatness, of strength and, most importantly, of radical faith. I am called to right social wrongs.
But am I really listening to what God is calling me to do? Is the voice I’m hearing his or some twisted, Revolver-esque echo of my ego? Society has conditioned us to view certain acts and certain words and certain careers and certain missions as the “mission field,” as the place where radical faith is lived out. These are the places God calls people. He doesn’t call someone to a dentist’s office or a bank chair. We know this must be true because God couldn’t possibly use someone as ordinary as an accountant to effect change.
The words “social justice” evoke images of Haiti, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea or Sudan. Cardboard boxes, worn-out shoes, corrugated tin roofs, distended bellies – these are the hallmarks of our social and political overactivism. Books like The New Friars and The Irresistible Revolution capture our attention because the people in them are doing extreme things in the name of Jesus. And darn it, they’re just so cool. We can’t help but believe that’s what we should be doing, and we feel a little guilty that we’re not, like maybe we’re not truly following Christ the way he intended.
We feel guilty because we have warped our understanding of what it means to be a missionary and a priest. We cling to a skewed belief that burning bush experiences come only to Christians living in the bush. That misunderstanding is creating an entire group of Christians who believe they are ineffective if they don’t sell everything they own and move half the world away. They’re missing opportunities to use their jobs, their families, their homes, their income – and yes, even that oh-so-dreaded word, stability – as a platform to do great things for the Kingdom.
The college kid in a bandana and TOMS standing on the streets of Nicaragua is no more and no less a follower of Christ than the woman who works through years of graduate school to get a steady job to make a steady income that she then chooses to invest in improving inner-city schools. I am in no position to judge the heart and mind of anyone, but I can judge their actions. And I’m tired of normal, everyday goodness being written off as boring, comfortable, ineffective or selfish. Turning your bank or your grocery store into your mission field simply requires a little more creativity.