Here’s a truth that I’ve discovered for myself. It takes multiple amounts of effort to produce just a fraction of the results when what you are trying to do is move towards a vision, towards justice, towards a public good, and towards cultivating a healthy culture.
On the flip side, if takes very little effort to produce enormous results when you are moving towards mediocrity, injustice, selfish individualism, and a culture of abuse.
Why? I don’t know or understand why this is really. I’m sure there is not a nice simple explanation for this though. I think it’s a combination of many things. Mix in that many experience these terrible things in their life so often that they think they are normal. Mix in a desire for control. Mix in that these things are basically the summation of most of recorded human history. Mix in so much more. And add in that there are those who willingly participate because they think they will some how benefit from these terrible things. Here’s the secret – no one ever really benefits. Yet, lot’s of people put in effort to maintain them.
We should never expect that the path towards vision, justice, public good, and healthy culture will be easy. They take great effort with many frustrations and road blocks along the way. There will be people who get in the way on purpose because they are so addicted to the status quo that they think maintaining them is of utmost importance – never mind that life would improve by changing from these things.
Jesus’ message is quite simple actually. Love your neighbor and your enemy because they are made in the image of God and when we show others love, we are showing love to God because they are made in God’s image. Care for the poor and outcast and welcome the stranger. Go the way of non-violence and seek the way of peace. Grace, mercy, forgiveness. There’s nothing all that complicated here in this list. Except they rarely are tried as fully as possible. There always seems to be some excuse as to why we need to put aside Jesus’ way and take up some alternative. Now many times do we need to go down the road of violence to actually learn that it doesn’t work in the end? It just makes matters worse. But how quickly we set peace aside when it gets difficult and we have to be vulnerable?
Here’s another truth I’ve discovered. Anyone trying to do anything worthwhile will suffer. That’s because anything worthwhile comes with a cost. And the key question is this – are you willing to pay the price?
I’m a distance runner. My favorite length is the half-marathon. I’ve run 17 so far. Here’s what I’ve learned. If I want to have a good time, have a good race, and feel good about my performance, then I have to pay the price. And that means training for weeks and months ahead of the race. It means going outside and running when it’s 15 F. It means getting out there in the rain and the snow. It means doing other types of work outs. All in an effort to prepare my body and my mind for the rigors of the race. Any distance race isn’t really about the day of the race. It’s about all the training that went on beforehand. The race just confirms how your training went and if you were faithful to your plan and if you were willing to pay the price.
So here’s the final thought – you are going to struggle and face opposition. You are going to have people who oppose you to the point of hurting you. You are going to face roadblocks. Go and do what you are doing anyway. It’s worth it. Forget about trying to win over the people who get in the way. That’s a waste of time and energy. Find people who can be a support. And go forward. Vision, justice, public good, and healthy culture are worthy it every time. Even the people who get in the way will benefit. But don’t expect them to thank you. Expect them to try to tear what you do down. But go an do it anyway. You won’t regret it. You never regret going after the things that are important. And that will keep you going, even on the hardest days.