Imagine for a moment that Jesus is back here on earth — for just one day — to give us practical advice for following him in 2021. With all of the current and complicated challenges facing our world, what would he remind today’s Christians to do?
Looking at Scripture, what He told us then is what He would tell us right now:
“Love God, love your neighbor, and make disciples.”
It seems like, in today’s ever-changing cultural climate, that third mandate has long been forgotten. Jesus’ greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36–40; Mark 12:30–31) lays out who we are to make our highest priorities, but these two commands are undergirded by a commission to build His kingdom.
Our world is becoming more and more polarized, and fear, mistrust, and extreme reactions have become the default setting for many people: both on and offline. As a mother and leader, this shift can feel both disappointing and discouraging. Harsh words and angry lies are not the voices of influence I want around my children. That’s why I wrote a book series introducing young readers to the strong and faithful women of the Bible. It’s what inspired me to start Truth Becomes Her, a movement that empowers young women and teaches them about their God-given worth. It’s why I invest in advocacy and the urgency of sharing the gospel, both in my own home and in the hard places in this world that my family can reach.
It’s true that real empowerment and enduring change don’t just happen on their own. As a five-time cancer survivor, I’ve learned firsthand the importance of perseverance, by way of mental fortitude, emotional strength, and spiritual attunement to the heart of God. I’ve seen His faithfulness in powerful ways. When we’re willing to charge into the battles He has called us to fight — when we’re willing to show up, press forward, and refuse to give up — that’s when He shows up.
So, what challenge do we really face in this present season?
The real challenge is two-fold: to find real and tangible ways to express love to God and others and to get strategic about living in light of eternity.
As parents and mentors of young people, our answers to their questions count, but our actions are crucial. If we’re not modeling the love of Christ, it will be easier for our kids to be victimized by fear and the pain of their temporal reality. We need a plan, a clear strategy to keep our families centered on Christ.
That’s why I absolutely love Ignite, World Vision’s comprehensive experiential curriculum that takes kids at every grade level through lessons and experiences, teaching them how to take meaningful action that meets real world needs, right now, for real people.
With Ignite, students work with their teachers (in Christian schools, homeschool groups, or Christian clubs at public schools) to choose an issue they care about that is impacting their community. This could be homelessness, food insecurity, accessibility for people with disabilities, access to clean water, or any other number of issues.
For years I have loved and advocated for the work World Vision is doing, both in the U.S. and around the globe to empower families to create sustained, lasting change in their own communities. The Ignite partnership gives young people a way to join in that mission, guided by meaningful support and structure. Most importantly, it’s all grounded in their Christian faith: with the love of Christ and the truth of the gospel guiding everything they do.
Scripture is full of verses about how God sees injustice. “Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow” (Isaiah 1:17, NIV).
Jesus boldly says that whenever we give food and water to the hungry and thirsty, give clothes to people in need, whenever we welcome a stranger, or visit those who are sick or in prison: “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40, NIV)
With all the suffering and injustice in our world, I don’t just want to sit around and talk about it. I don’t want to share a bunch of Facebook posts and pat myself on the back. No, if you’re like me, you want to know what the next steps are and to do them. You want to know what practical actions you can take right now.
The Ignite partnership is a practical roadmap for doing exactly that. This generation is hungry to make an impact. They are hungry to be the kind of change makers God calls them to be. As the adults, parents, and mentors, who have been assigned to nurture, encourage, and support the next generation, we play a vital role in raising up children who live each day seeking to be more like Jesus and, most importantly, doing what He has commanded.
What are we going to do this week to model that?
Let’s resist simply settling for the current state of the world, becoming naysayers, or aiming for survival by shielding ourselves from the harsh realities of the world. Instead let’s become warriors of the Word who embody the pure and truest form of the gospel in every way.
How might people you encounter be inspired to live for Jesus, because of the reflection of Christ they see in you?
Erin Weidemann is a member of World Vision’s Speakers Bureau and the founder and CEO of Bible Belles. She lives in Whitefish, Montana, with her husband, Brent, and their daughters, Rooney and Roxy. Learn more about Erin at erinweidemann.com.