When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up? I went through a lot of stages. Around age thirteen I wanted to be a professional skateboarder for the Powell-Peralta Bones Brigade. By the time I was fifteen I was playing guitar in a rock band and had all kinds of dreams swirling around in my head. At eighteen I was considering law school (inspired by A Few Good Men). At another point I simply wanted to be a business owner (actually did that in my early twenties).
The point: All of us have had different dreams of what we wanted our life to be like. But for most of us, there was a common denominator: We wanted our life to matter, to be special, to count for something, to make an impact. Let me ask: Has that changed for you?
Many of us tend to think that the individual acts of regular people are not that important, so the idea of our role in making the world a better place is diminished. Thus, making a difference with our life is not taken very seriously. We think that making a difference is for the Mother Teresas, the Martin Luther Kings, the Nelson Mandelas, but we’re wrong. Because Jesus essentially says, “Your Life Matters.”
In the 1980s, New York City was in the grip of one of the worst crime epidemics in its history. Then, suddenly and without warning, from a high in 1990, the crime rate went into a dramatic decline. Murders dropped by two-thirds. Felonies were cut in half. Why? The most intriguing answer is called the Broken Windows Theory. The notion was that crime is the inevitable result of disorder. If a window is broken, people walking by will subconsciously conclude that that no one cares. This sends a signal that anything goes and soon more windows will be broken.
The idea is that crime is contagious. It can start with a broken window and spread to an entire community, which means that little things matter greatly. To solve the problem NYC waged war on broken windows and graffiti. Cleanup spread to the entire city starting with the small things, such as turnstile jumping on the subways, the squeegee men who came up to drivers at intersections, public drunkenness, littering, and prostitution. Quickly, crime began to fall in the city.
As Christians, we are the mended windows and the scrubbed-off graffiti. It’s acting in little ways that then leads to the big events, the big moments, the big opportunities. The little things don’t just add up to big things; they become the big things. Making a difference means being light in a dark world. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus doesn’t stop there. He says, “No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket.” In other words, “Don’t hide the light.” If a light doesn’t shine it makes no sense.
Essentially, Jesus is saying that there’s nothing more useless than someone who is a Christian in name only, someone who carries the title, but doesn’t live the life. Christianity is not simply about a life that is informed with certain truths. It’s not just about a life that is conformed to certain practices and rituals. It’s about a life that has been transformed through a relationship with the living God.
I’d dare say that many people primarily invest their lives in two areas: (1) Making a living, and (2) The life that their livelihood brings them. Hear me out, while it’s fine to earn a living, if that’s the goal line, you will never experience the life you long for. No assembly line is going to manufacture something you can buy that’s going to bring purpose into your life. No promotion, no deal, no contract, no stock option, no corner office, is going to make you feel at the end of your life like you did something of eternal significance.
Let me be frank with you. Many people call themselves “Believers.” Many people consider themselves a Christian. Yet often times they’re simply not serious about it. They’re not as committed to it as they should be. How long is that going to go on? What are you waiting for? You matter. This is your one and only life. Make it count.
(Sources: James White; James Wilson; George Kelling)