Dr. Chapman is explaining in our chapter this week that acts of service are appreciated by others, in fact we are the recipients of acts of service from God and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Why don’t we act to serve others? The Methodist church has a tradition of being a church of service. F. Belton Joyner in his book Being United Methodist in the Bible Belt writes “ask a United Methodist what they believe and they will tell you what their congregation does…Methodists tend to think it’s not worth believing if it doesn’t make a difference in what you do.”
Recently, I was in Chicago visiting my son. He moved to Kedzie Avenue from Wicker Park. Kedzie is a newer part of Chicago and his apartment is more modern than the place he moved from. However, the neighborhood is not as well-maintained. Primarily, there is a lot of trash lying around. As I was going out the door with him I commented on the need to pick up some of the litter. He was not interested. There was too much of it. It wasn’t his job and he could not make a dent.
I disagree. I did not get into an argument about trash but I remember what I was feeling. It is amazing what you can do in your immediate environment if you pick up five pieces of garbage a day.
This is a little thing. Miniscule. But it is an act of service.
Can my son rid Chicago of its trash?
Can he improve his immediate environment: yes.
We all have big jobs in front of us that need to be done. They can be overwhelming. We tell ourselves we don’t have the time or talent to do them. The job is too big.
We have all heard the story of the elephant. That’s what is for dinner. Elephants are big. Can you eat an elephant? No, it is too big… Yes you can, one piece at a time.
There are too many frozen people in this world, people who don’t do anything to make the world better. They can’t find a way to take action.
Call me an optimist but as I get older I find myself surrounded by more people who have terrible angst about life. The culture is decaying. Schools are full of hoodlums. TV is not fit to watch. Politicians are all crooked. The economy is going to fail. You get my point. There are a lot of people who tend to be negative.
Where can we find pockets of positive action?
I was teaching my Sunday School class a few days ago and I tried to make a point about channeling energy into positive action rather than just complaining. Most in my class appreciate our society’s allowance of gun ownership. I knew that when I explained my example but I really was not talking about gun ownership. I was trying to make a point about positive change.
A CNBC special was created on assault rifles. Owners of this type of weapon are very sensitive to our government limiting their ability to own this weapon. A staunch advocate of gun rights was being interviewed by the news man who put together the program. The advocate expressed extreme hatred for the American Government. The news man said “Ok, who are you going to shoot? The sheriff, the councilman, the mayor, the governor?” The advocate said “No I like all those people.” “Well you say you hate the government, so what are you going to do about this situation?” The advocate was dumbfounded. He realized he was angry at vague things.
The trash is everywhere, the elephant is a huge meal, and the anger is unfocused and overwhelming.
I guess I am silly, but sometimes it starts with picking up a little piece of garbage.
See the garbage, pick up the garbage and throw it in the trash can.