Three times I have found myself in this conversation in the past 2 weeks. In these three conversations I have had friends look to me and say, “It’s so great that you have a cause you are passionate about, I just wish I knew what mine was.” Every time my reaction has been the same, “I do?” Time and time again, I have found myself in that place of searching, hoping, desiring; to arrive at my true ‘calling’ in life, desiring to figure out which cause I will stand behind, for good. The problem for me has always been that there are just too many injustices to choose from, I want to be about them all. I have found myself waiting, waiting for this revelation of something specific to go after, waiting to identify myself with the fight for something. Would it be human trafficking, clean water, orphans, widows, adoption, the poor? If the poor, then would it be the cause of the ‘homeless’ in my city, or those living in poverty overseas in the slums of Africa? Which country do I want to invest in? The possibilities are truly endless, which is a hard truth to understand and fully grasp. Having been exposed to a few of these things first hand, I have felt this weight, this crushing weight to do, to defend, to act…I have also found myself wrapped up in the spin of needs in this world which has in the past caused me to do nothing, causing me to become apathetic and left me feeling numb. Can I even bring about change to any of this? Is it even worth it? Honest thoughts, ridiculous, but honest.
Unfortunately, as a result of living in a lost and broken world, injustice is all around, and if we have been given a heart of compassion, it should be very natural for our heart to be drawn to various issues…there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, in fact, this is beautiful. It has been through the search for a clear leading to be about one specific cause that I have realized that I just may never land on ‘one cause’, my heart may forever be caught up in the midst of them all. I’m not searching anymore. Not because I have come to find my cause, but because I have realized that all of these causes represent one common cause.
To see something as worthy of being reclaimed is to be about every cause we discover, because a cause is a need, and we are called to meet needs. So many of the injustices in the world are intertwined. Beneath someone’s outer layer, often lies an array of ‘causes’ to defend and other needs to meet. Take the woman living in the homeless shelter you interact with…by taking time to truly know her, you could be defending the cause of not only the homeless, but the trafficked, the widowed, the divorced, the abused, the oppressed, the foreigner, the unloved. The same goes for your neighbor, or the person sitting next to you at church, the cashier at Target, even your roommate or spouse…when we truly see people for what is beneath the surface, when we step into their lives and share in their struggles, we are defending countless causes…but ‘the cause’ transcends through every situation. The cause to share the message of Jesus is always central, the cause for healing, reconciliation and redemption is at the bottom of this fountain of hope, waiting to overflow and enter into everyone’s story.
For me, this was a shift in perspective, something I had to learn to accept as more than enough. For many of us, this shift has the power to change the way we live our lives. I truly believe in causes, they are absolutely necessary and fruitful; I believe great things happen when groups of people come together with the purpose of defending a specific injustice in the world. There is so much power in awareness, knowledge and taking action. Through these things, we can and will see transformation in the lives of people all over the world. We just have to be careful not to let 'a cause' consume our identity and take the place of 'the cause'.
For those who are just not sure where to stake their lives, that’s ok! You’re in the perfect position to go after whatever cause presents itself to you next. Just let it happen, big or small, meet the needs in front of you today. You shouldn’t wait to act.
Walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received…with humility, and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:1-6)
Follow the stirring in your heart, day by day, and those cause/causes will be revealed to you. That stirring for something specific might change moment by moment, but that’s ok, because ‘the cause’ is never changing. It will always be the purpose and power by which we are given the ability to care at all.
In addition to the cause, be about a cause...sport that bracelet, fundraise, wear the red X, sponsor a child, GO, build a well in Africa, visit the orphaned, be amongst the poorest of the poor, come back, or maybe stay. Tweet, write, raise your voice, but at the same time, face the needs you encounter in the mundane of daily life with that same zeal and passion. Give your presence to the next person you interact with. See the poor in Spirit right in front of you through that same lens. See their need for your love and care as being just as great as those you are championing for all around the world. Rest in the pull of your heart to be about more than one issue…don’t wait to act until you have arrived, but realize that you have already arrived, you have been given a cause…walk in it with confidence. Trust that by caring for those who have been divinely appointed to cross your path, you may be defending more causes than you ever could have hoped!
See people; truly see them the same way they are seen by their creator. Our cause is to see beneath the external layers of those we encounter daily…to live in a manner which is about seeing people worthy of being hoped for and believed in. Rather than seeing your neighbors as some kind of mission, take another look and see them as people who have been divinely placed in the homes on your street, for you to know and love. To care for…to really care. Our cause while on this earth is to live with intention and purpose, and we can only hope that we might be a part of furthering the greatest cause, the message of Jesus. This cause will transcend into every story we intersect with, in your backyard or across the globe, comfortable or uncomfortable, familiar or unfamiliar, this care is our call and this is more than enough.