One day, a teenager decided that he wanted to make a positive difference in his life and community. So he went to the large community park near his house that was filled with trash. The trash ranged from broken bottles to crumbled up pieces of newspaper. However, this was not the worst challenge that the teenager faced, the community park was filled with people who did not care about it. They ignored the trash cans and often laughed about the mess that they added to the park. With all these challenges and the hard work required to accoplish the task at hand, the teenager pushed forward. This was because of the commitment that he made to himself, and that commitment became his personal mission. He simply wanted to make his community a better place.
He walked into the store and purchased some trash bags and even a rake. Every day after school, after he completed his assignments he went straight to the park. He slowly started from one side of the park to the other. Every day while cleaning, the people who did not care about the cleanliness of the park laughed at him and at times, they threw trash where he already cleaned. However, this young man’s resolve did not change. He could have got angry but he decided that if he got down to their level nothing good could come from it. So, he kept his head down and continued to work hard every day.
After a few weeks, the park started to look nice again. Not only that but the local hardware store donated paint and supplies to the young teenager to paint the buildings in the park. After another hard week of work, the community park looked like it was back to perfect condition. However, in the back of his mind, the teenager knew that he would have to continue working hard to keep the park in this condition but he did not care because he was proud of his hard work.
Then, one evening, that young man walked to that park and sat in a bench off to the side. There he saw the leader of the group of people who mocked him and continued to through trash where he already cleaned. He did not say a thing and simply thought to himself, “here we go again.” In that group of people, one finished a bottle of coke and then threw the bottle on the floor. However, that teenager saw something that impacted his life. The leader of that group walked up to the bottle and picked it up. He walked into the trash and placed it in the bin. As that man turned around, he saw the young teenager sitting on the bench and simply nodded his head at him.
That young teenager’s heart was filled with joy because all of his hard work and dedication made a positive change in his community. Not only did he clean up the large community park but he changed a heart for the better. The apostle Peter teaches us this very same lesson. It is written, “Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul. 12 Keep your behavior excellent among the [unsaved] Gentiles [conduct yourself honorably, with graciousness and integrity], so that for whatever reason they may slander you as evildoers, yet by observing your good deeds they may [instead come to] glorify God [b]in the day of visitation [when He looks upon them with mercy],” (1 Peter 2:10-12, AMP).
Peter was not speaking about cleaning up a park but his message was simple. Before we were saved we were nothing. We belonged to no one and had no true purpose or calling on our life. However, once we have Christ in our lives, we become citizens to His kingdom and we are obligated to make the world we live in a better place. We become aliens and strangers to the communities we live in because we are different. We no longer belong to nothing but to something bigger than ourselves and when we understand that, there are certain things we must start to do. Like the young teenager from my story, we need to have the resolve and be willing to put in the hard work to make our communities a better place.
The first time the teenager saw the group of people laughing at him cleaning up and throwing more trash in the areas where he already cleaned up, he could have given up and just joined them. This is what Peter was teaching us by telling us to abstain from worldly desires. It is easy to fall in line with everyone else and justify our actions because of that. However, we are not Gentiles to the Truth. Hence, we must “keep our behavior excellent among the unsaved.” We must always strive to conduct ourselves honorably with integrity regardless of the circumstances the world or satan puts us in. However, have you thought about why Peter was inspired to write this? You see, regardless of how much good you are trying to do, you will always have people slander you and try to challenge all the good you are called to do in this world.
These evildoers (unsaved people) do not know better because they do not have a personal relationship with Jesus yet. Remember that while they laugh at you and try to make your circumstances more challenging, they are both testing and watching you. They are becoming witnesses to what you are doing. They see you overcoming your hardships and they can see your resolve to make the community a better place. They can see that you are doing your good deeds not to be recognized but to help others. When they see that you are acting out of love instead of selfish ambitions, it allows the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts for what they have said and done against you.
You say you want to make the world a better place, I challenge you to do what that young teenager did. Notice that after weeks of hard work and resolve, he accomplished his mission. Regardless of the negative things people said or did to him, he continued to move forward little by little. He defeated one small giant after another and then something wonderful happened. People in his community saw his sincerity and decided to donate to his mission. Even though this teenager’s mission was to clean the community and ours is Gospel-focused, both of these missions can bear holy fruits. That teenager changed the heart of one person and that was more than enough for him because he knew that his hard work made a difference. This is no different than all of you reading this message here today.
To make the world a better place we need to be the catalyst of change for it to happen. We need to live as servants of God! We need to put in the hard work and dedication to not only make our communities a better place but it cannot happen until we make our hearts a better place. Notice how Peter stated that we needed to conduct ourselves honorably. This means that we must maintain a Gospel purpose and a Gospel mission in us daily. People will laugh at you because, at one point and time, you once laughed at someone else’s hard work. However, now it is our turn to be laughed at and provoked. It is with these challenges that people can see how you react. Will you react with a Christ-like example or will you justify your worldly reactions because everyone else is doing it?
In becoming the solution we must have the resolve of steel, and we must focus on glorifying Christ in everything we say and do. That is the only way an unsaved person can see the light in you. That is the key to being the solution in our communities. Only then can we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us to change the hearts of people one at a time. So let us be the solution together.