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Your World over The World

Your World over The World

Have you ever tried to care for the whole world? Every person. Every place. Everything. There was a day when you only knew what was happening in your corner of the world…so I’ve been told. You knew the details of what was taking place in your community and you were mostly unaware of what was happening elsewhere. And this meant that you only needed to care for your local community. This was a load you could carry. It was manageable.

In the 1400’s, Gutenberg invented the printing press and over the next few hundred years, newspapers became a thing and by the mid-1800’s, you had 400 daily papers and 3,000 weekly papers in the U.S. You now had access to more people doing more things in more places. It was becoming harder to keep up with it all.

In the 1940’s, the big 3 networks, NBC, CBS, and ABC, all began broadcasting news on the daily. This led to more stories, more information, and more you could care about if you wanted to. And then came cable, with more news and more things you could keep up with. And then the internet and the 24-hour news cycle. And then Twitter came, with updated news every second of the day. And now, we have access to more people than ever before, more stories than ever before, and more people telling us that we should care about all the stories more than ever before. It’s become impossible to keep up with it all and care about it all. But this doesn’t keep us from trying to or at least it doesn’t keep us from feeling guilty when we can’t keep up with it all.

How much should we care about the world?

Is it possible to care too little? Of course, we say.

Is it possible to care too much? Now that’s a very interesting question, but it’s one I want us to explore today. I’m calling this message, “Your World over The World”. I want to give us a framework for how much we should actually care about the world. And from there, I want to show us how we can do this practically as individuals and as an entire Epic Church community.

I want to use the life of Nehemiah to illustrate how this framework plays itself out. The setting takes place in 445 BC in Susa, which was one of the capitals of the Persian empire. Nehemiah has an influential position – he’s the cupbearer to King Artaxerxes.

Nehemiah 1:1-4 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

You were not created to only care about yourself.

Nehemiah had a great position in the Persian empire. If he was only looking out for himself, he never would have entertained the idea of going back to Jerusalem. He might have been a little sad over the news these men gave him. Perhaps he would have even prayed for them, but he wouldn’t have gotten involved if he was a self-absorbed human being.

The point of your life is not for you to be the point of everything.

You can’t just care about your world, what everything means for you, and set your life up so that everyone revolves around you. You were not created to be the main idea in the world. You’re here for more than that.

You do not have the calling or capacity to care for everything, everyone, and everywhere.

Nehemiah is limited. He cannot stay in Susa and go to Jerusalem. We’re trying to be in all the places at the same time. And when we realize it’s impossible, we feel guilty about it or we experience an extreme form of FOMO.

Many of us live with constant outrage and exhaustion because we’re trying to carry stories we were never called to carry.

God’s heart and attention can cover the whole world; ours cannot.

Since we cannot care about all the people, all the things, and all the places, we want to gain clarity about our unique callings and assignments.

How do you know the people, things, and places you are called to care about?

Explore. Discover. Narrow. Master. When you first begin this purpose journey, anything is possible. Anyone is possible. Anywhere is possible. But over time, you tend to get more specific on the kind of people, the kind of thing, and the kind of place where you are being called to make an impact.

Pay attention to the passions God has put into your heart.

There’s something already in Nehemiah’s heart when his brother and these men show up in Susa. He asked them about the Jewish remnant – the people, and he asked them about Jerusalem – the place. It already seems clear that he couldn’t get this off his mind or out of his heart.

What can you not get out of your mind or out of your heart?

Whatever that is, whoever that is, wherever that is – give great attention to it. Chances are it’s there for a reason. When Nehemiah hears that the people are in great trouble and that Jerusalem is in bad shape, it causes a deeply emotional response from him.

Who are the people God has created you to care about deeply?

This could be certain types of people – the unhoused, those struggling with mental health, lonely executives, new moms, or it could be very specific individuals

What are the things or causes God has created you to care about deeply?

Injustice based on race, age, or gender. Foster care or Adoption. Education. Creation Care.

Where are the places God has created you to care about deeply?

Your neighborhood or another neighborhood. This city. A particular nation in our world. Maybe your hometown.

We don’t need to feel bad that a place grips our hearts unlike anywhere else. This was even true for Jesus.

Luke 19:41-42 As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day would bring you peace – but not it is hidden from your eyes.

Back to our story: About four months later, Nehemiah goes to this same Jerusalem. Listen to what he says:

Nehemiah 2:11-12 I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days I set out during the night with a few others. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on.

God deposits specific things from his heart into our hearts.

It’s a wonderful discovery when we realize what our God-given passions are. But there’s something we need to be very careful with once we have clarity on what we’re called to be passionate about.

Once you get clarity on your calling from God, it’s easy to think that everyone else should care about the same things you care about and that they should care about them to the same degree you do.

You see this all over our world today. Someone gets very passionate about a specific cause – that’s great! But then they tell us that if we’re a decent human being, we will also care as deeply about the thing they care so deeply about. If you’re demanding that everyone cares about everything you care about, please stop. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. And if you have people telling you that you should care like they care, don’t give into this temptation.

Our staff team is filled with passionate people and we do share some common passions. But each of us also has passions that others don’t have on our team. My wife, Shauna, and I have many passions in common. But we also have unique callings that are distinct from each other. Shauna feels uniquely called to help the global church understand how to share their faith with non-Christians. I feel uniquely called to give wisdom privately and publicly to help church leaders and business leaders navigate opportunities and obstacles.

While we can’t expect everyone to care about what we care about, I think it’s really significant to find some people who care deeply about the things we care deeply about.

Nehemiah 2:17-18 Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work.

One of the best things about the Epic community is that the more you lean in, the more you’ll discover who else has a passion and calling for the things you care about so deeply. Let me say this – you aren’t the only one. But if you don’t lean in, you’ll continue to think you’re the only one.

How the world wants us to aim our lives: Do whatever seems deeply fulfilling.

How we aim our lives in God’s kingdom: 1) Glory of God 2) Good of Others 3) This will bring us deep fulfillment.

Imagine a church community filled with people living out their unique callings? How many people could we care for? How many things could we care about? How many places could we care for?

What we can do together is exponentially greater than anything we can do alone.

This is the vision behind The Hope Project. Our goal this year is $400,000. The Hope Project is how we fund our local, national, and global partners. Please use this as a prayer guide, but I want you to take it a step further. We have lots of partners and it’s impossible for you to care deeply about all of them. Would you look this over and ask God to lead you to care deeply about 2 or 3 of them? Connect your prayers to the ones you care most about. Connect your giving to the ones you care most about. Connect your serving to the ones you care most about.

Global: Ghana, Vietnam, India, Romania, Chile, or somewhere else

Local: Mobilize Love, Open Door Legal, BJM, Bessie Carmichael, City Impact, Foster the City, or another local partner.

“Knowing what I know about myself and the world, what am I going to do?” -Steve Garber, Visions of Vocation

Jesus cares deeply about you and He’s put some things in his heart into your heart. What will you do with these things?

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