Now is the Time: How to be an Agent of Unity and Change
By: Steve Mayo
As our nation wrestles with tough issues and conversations, how is the Lord calling you to unify what has been divided? CCA’s Director of Discipleship, Steve Mayo, shares a message of encouragement that challenges us to examine our change efforts through the truthful lens of God’s Word.
Charles Dickens’ classic novel A Tale of Two Cities begins with one of the most famous phrases ever uttered in literature:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times . . .”
Some people may be wondering when the “best of times" will begin in 2020. We are still walking through a global pandemic, which has caused loss of life and division regarding the course of action that should be taken moving forward. And now, the tragic death of George Floyd along with other African Americans and the subsequent upheaval have thrown our country into a conversation we are unable to run from.
The command for Christians to love God and to love others is of the utmost importance.
As we encounter the polarizing viewpoints that are a byproduct of these issues, the command for Christians to love God and to love others is of the utmost importance. I would like to share a few thoughts to encourage you to be the loving agents of unity and change our world needs and God has called us to be.
These issues are complex and cannot be solved with a slogan or a one-size-fits-all opinion.
To approach our culture and the times we are living through with this incomplete response is an oversimplification. The process of unpacking issues such as racial division and its causes, injustice, and oppression will only come through intentionally crafted conversations soaked in love.
It will take patience and humility.
Understanding and empathizing with someone sitting on the other side of the table and truly hearing their situation with the goal of comprehending will take time. It will take patience and humility. And it may very well involve the risk of venturing outside your comfort zone. But engaging in such intentional dialogue will prove worthwhile.
We may need to take action we’ve never taken before that makes us feel uncomfortable.
In many instances, displaying love to someone or a group of people will push the limits of the comforts we have become accustomed to having. It takes time and effort to meet people where they are hurting, understand their pain, and ascertain what response you should have. It will cost you time and perhaps money or popularity, but sometimes God requires us to sacrifice certain things in obedience to Him. He knows exactly what we need, what this world needs, and has a perfect plan in mind.
Jesus’ ministry wasn’t centered around the idea of comfort (Luke 14:25-27).
When I attended the Word of Life Bible Institute, some of us would go with OAE (Open Air Evangelism) groups to New York on the weekend to do urban outreach. Those weekends were consumed with time in men’s homeless shelters and soup kitchens listening to stories of lives that had been severely altered, serving soup as a volunteer, and helping some of the men reconcile with family members. I had strong opinions formed in my mind before spending time with those gentlemen about how they “ended up there.”
Through the time spent with them, I realized that many of my assumptions were completely wrong and inaccurate. I needed to learn to view them the way Jesus did. By listening to their life stories, my eyes were opened to the hurt and pain they had experienced; their stories gave me a fresh perspective and a softened heart.
We may need to be more intentional about living in community than we have ever been.
It is easy to be satisfied with making cordial connections instead of seeking out a deeper and richer community that Jesus desires for His followers.
“Now the multitude of those having believed were one in heart and soul . . .” –Acts 4:32
In the past week, many of us have had deeper conversations with friends than we have ever had before. But why did we wait until we were pushed to do so? Shouldn’t we already be engaging in these kinds of conversations with our brothers and sisters?
True community goes past basic facts and information.
The word community is the idea of communion — not the communion we take in remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice using bread and grape juice, but rather the communion that involves being truly KNOWN by others. True community goes past basic facts and information; it addresses understanding how others are really doing and how they feel about whatever situation they’re facing.
Through the ongoing discussions that take place when we are in true community, we have the opportunity to discover others’ stories, struggles, fears, and hopes. Much like icebergs, 90% of who we are lies hidden beneath the water’s surface.
Pursuing true community more intentionally can lead us to befriending and understanding neighbors who don’t look like us. When Jesus addressed the question “Who is my neighbor?” to the majority culture in His day in Luke 10, He responded with the story of The Good Samaritan — a story about an individual who was the recipient of consistent racial prejudice, a Samaritan, who used his actions of kindness toward a member of the dominant culture to illustrate what it means to be a neighbor.
God calls us to speak up when we see racial injustice or any other form of injustice happening, and He might lead you to show support to a people group in a clear, visible, and tangible way.
Sometimes difficult conversations are needed, and we need to be courageous enough to have them while bathing our words in humility and grace. Our goal should not be to prove a point or debunk someone’s argument, but rather to listen and empathize, even if you disagree. Or perhaps God is calling you to march or attend a non-violent gathering to proclaim the injustice at hand. These are just some of the many examples of actions that can genuinely express love and care. Though, as Christians, we should never compromise the truth that is in the word of God in the name of empathy and compassion.
“Little children, we must stop expressing love merely by our words and manner of speech; we must love also in action and in truth.” –1 John 3:18
This year our theme at CCA was illuminate. When you light a dark world with actions that reflect God’s standards for truth and justice, what is wrong in this world will be exposed and brought to light.
CCA is poised to lead by example.
We are equipped. We are diverse. And most importantly, we teach students to filter everything through the lens and worldview of the reliable, unchanging truth of the Gospel. Although we are far from perfect, we are committed to confronting tough issues and will first turn to the Word of God as our abiding framework.
Although we are far from perfect, we are committed to confronting tough issues and will first turn to the Word of God as our abiding framework.
In the past few weeks at our school, we hosted various drive-thru parades and celebratory events where a beautiful myriad of races and ethnicities stood beside each other (at least 6 feet apart, of course!) to partake in fellowship and give glory to God.
I have worked at Calvary Christian Academy for over a decade and have enjoyed seeing our diverse student body glorify God through the skills and qualities He has blessed them with, expand their personal community by meeting and understanding others who are quite possibly very different from them, and lead in their post-CCA vocations with the appreciation for diversity they developed during their time as an Eagle.
Often, our young people run with 1 Timothy 4:12 quicker than us adults to lead by example and remind us of what a beautiful picture Heaven will truly be. They are “color brave” instead of “color blind,” embracing and celebrating all God has created for His glory.
This season has brought us to our knees more than ever. Regardless of whatever the Lord may be calling you into, seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33).
If you haven’t been intentional about praying for godly wisdom, now is the time. If you haven’t been intentional about “showing up” for those who need us, “showing out” by taking godly action, and “showing off” the revolutionary love and nature of Jesus Christ, now is the time. In the same way Christ was devoted to us, may we also be devoted to one another in brotherly love… because now is the time.
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.” –Ephesians 5:16-17
May His grace, peace, and power surround you and satiate your soul as we continue to persevere not just through 2020, but through our entire time bearing witness to Jesus here on Earth.
Steve Mayo serves as the Director of Discipleship at CCA. He also collaborates with the Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale's Six78 and HSM youth ministries, and assists with overseeing the church’s Vision 2023 Education Team. He and his wife Morgan have three children who attend CCA — Titus, Quincy, and Maxwell.
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