I tried to dig up on the interwebs, the advert from Australian TV that starts: “Ink. Just a mark on paper, but still the best way to put your name to a cause...” or however it actually goes, with the green hand and lots of animals? It’s Wild Animal Encounters Foundation (& Taronga Zoo) in case you’re interested.
The reason I mention it is because of the last paragraph of the ad. “Our cause is the wild.¹" In their little advertising space, they’ve managed to lead into and explain their entire premise for existing as a foundation, and invite a response from their audience by calling us out to our best and highest selves as caretakers of the planet. “one species must lead us there...ours.²"
Despite its soft appearance as an ad, it’s a strong message really.
I often wonder if we know who we are well enough to put together such a message to present to the wider world.
For me, sometimes it feels like the wider christian community spends more time putting out what it perceives as spot fires or trying to manage political publicity than working from a place of intentional understanding.
John the Baptist had a very clear understanding of who he was and what his job was.
John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.” John 1:23-27 (NIV)
Jesus knew who He was and what His job was. In fact, He said it out loud, which ticked people off, then went out and did it.
He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21 (NIV)
If I think about successful people, and I’m not talking about success finances wise, I’m talking about success ‘have-achieved-their-goal’ wise; they’re people who started (funnily enough) with a clearly defined goal in mind.
Edmund Hillary set out with others to climb Mt Everest. Done.
Wright Brothers; manned flight. Done.
We don’t have to climb Mt Everest or win the whole Olympics single handed in order to fulfil our purpose. Sometimes it’s kinda difficult to determine in amongst all the competing causes that are out there, what to lend our voice to. This can be made more difficult if we are still working out who we are or what we are here for.
I have spent some time recently listening to a guy by the name of Jeff Goins, who mentors writers. One of the pieces of advice he has is for writers, is to work out what in the world they would pick a fight about, and to base everything they write around that.
As I was working it through with Father for my own situation, we were talking about how this could be a valuable beginning or clarifying point for everyone, not just writers.
Jesus was able to articulate clearly what He was here for, and everything He did came from that place of clarity. He did pick fights with those who needed to be reminded of the enormity of the responsibility they carried in their position as priests, and He included and welcomed those that the wider community would not have gone near. All from that place of defining His purpose.
When we have boundaries to work with, it makes it easier to make decisions about what to lend our strength to. We know that we can take deliberate time to rest and rejuvenate, spending time charging our batteries, even as Jesus did, because that will give us strength to do the things we know we are called to. We can put down work we are NOT called to, because we can see what fits and what doesn’t fit within the scope of our call.
For some of us, that call, those boundaries, the thing we would pick a fight with the world about (or what would you risk everything for), might look something like this: “The Environmental Impact of Humans on the Planet”. For others it might look like this: “Parenting For A Better Future”. Or this: “Feeding People Beautiful Food”.
We don’t have to go around actually picking fights, but it’s a helpful illustration to work through in order to find what it is that God has placed in your heart, what you are made for.
God delights in us using our gifts and the things that move us, move Him. He made us, so really, He made us to love photography and missions and parenting and writing and science and running and crosswords and insects and prayer and maths and stuff.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
I think that the more of us who know who we are and what we are called to, and can articulate that in a clear way, the stronger the whole Body of Christ becomes. It really is about you and Jesus, and me and Jesus, and us and Jesus together. It’s easy to get lost when the crowd gets big, but our Jesus is totally personal.
It is our relationship with Him that matters in the long run, and He totally wants to lend His weight to our cause, because our cause is His cause, particularly if His cause is our cause…
God Bless You Very Much
1, 2 http://www.waefoundation.org.au/