The task of the Christian is to say yes to God
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said. “Send me!”
The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If someone who has worldly means sees a brother in need and refuses him compassion, how can the love of God remain in him? Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.
—1 John 3:16-18
The greatest joy I’ve found in life stems from the conviction that God loves me, that he rejoices in me, that he delights in me, sinful as I am. On the days I’m most confident in God’s love, it’s as though my restless heart can finally be still.
The trouble is, the love of God won’t let you be still.
It’s not enough to trust that God loves you; you have to do something about it. Because if it’s true that Christ laid down his life for me, then I’ve been handed a commission: to lay down my life for others. In baptism I’ve become another Christ, another anointed and sent into the world to proclaim the powerful love of God to the men and women he died for.
There are days when it all seems too much. Refugees and homelessness and pollution and terrorism and abortion and the handicapped and atheism and human trafficking and depression and what can I really do? So I wrap myself in my comfortable blanket of apathy because to care at all is to hand my heart over to be broken.
Then I remember his Sacred Heart, broken for love of me. And I have to move.
How can I go about my life, caught up in my own trivial troubles with no thought to the agony of others, and call myself a Christian? How can I receive the love of God and not pass it on to others? It’s all well and good to show up on Sunday morning, but do my bank account, my day planner, my Facebook feed reflect the love of Christ for the outcast? Do I live the conviction that each person I meet is the reason Christ handed over his life?
The temptation is to protest, as Isaiah did: I’m not good enough. I’m not holy enough or strong enough or wise enough. But as with Isaiah and the apostles and every saint the world has ever known, it’s not about you. It’s God who counsels the pregnant teen, begs asylum for refugees, demands clean water, feeds the hungry, speaks patiently to the three-year-old, witnesses to the fallen-away.
The task of the Christian isn’t to feed every orphan or comfort every widow. The task of the Christian is to say yes to God when he asks, as he asks. We’re called to stand up with Isaiah and say, “Here I am. Send me.” And we’re called to sit back down when the Lord says to sit. Every work of mercy is a work of the hands and feet of Christ in service to the body of Christ. Our job isn’t to move mountains, it’s to offer the Lord our lives and then get out of the way.
During this Year of Mercy, God is offering us his mercy in abundance, as he always does. But he’s also asking us in a particular way to be instruments of his mercy, to love in deed and truth. Rather than spending our lives concocting excuses, let’s try this year to answer the way Isaiah and Abraham and Esther and Mary and Peter and Andrew did: “Here I am, Lord. Send me.”
Meg Hunter-Kilmer writes for her blog “Held by His Pierced Hands” and travels around the country speaking to youth and adults, leading retreats and parish missions.