What we learned in history class shaped our vision of our lives more than we ever understood. As commonly taught in most cultures […]
What we learned in history class shaped our vision of our lives more than we ever understood.
As commonly taught in most cultures of the world, “history” is a narrative of great (or awful) things said or done by privileged people at pivotal moments in the story of a tribe or people or nation. The story line as we learned it connects the dots between great military heroes, powerful monarchs, and eloquent politicians over more than four millennia. From ancient Mesopotamia to the breaking news story about a legislator’s quotable speech, “making history” is an act we expect of other people—those whose lives are somehow different from ours because of wealth, bloodlines, or educational opportunities.
This “great man” theory of history inevitably reduces our expectations of ourselves, however. If recordable history is made by others who say or do important things on stages we will never walk upon, our responsibility for changing the world around us is somehow lessened. Hunger, we assume, is a problem for the politicians to solve. Peacemaking is the task of trained diplomats, shuttling between capital cities. Treating people fairly will happen only when legislators in some paneled chamber narrowly approve the reform bill.
But there is another story line—one both taught and lived by Jesus—that puts each believer, however apparently humble and obscure, at the tipping point of history. Alongside the narrative of philosophers, kings, and politicians, there is the gospel reality of change and impact made by those whose names will never reach the headlines. If every cup of cold water and each loaf of bread is noted and valued by Him who judges all things, then kind acts done in the name of the only King who truly matters are of far greater value than all the victories won or speeches ever made.
History, from heaven’s perspective, isn’t made only on battlefields and in legislative chambers. The power of a self-forgetful act of kindness to change even one other human life—to care for the poor, preach the gospel to the shamed, lift up the brokenhearted—these are what heaven counts as decisive moments in the history of the world.
In this edition of Adventist World, you will find brief stories of Seventh-day Adventists who are making a difference for the kingdom while “living here below.” None was born to power or influence, but each has already had a powerful influence on their portion of the world. We tell their stories to remind you that you, too, are already an influencer for the coming kingdom of Jesus. Jesus gives both influence and opportunity to those who can be trusted to use them to bless, support, and uplift others.