Anthony de Mello tells of a Sufi Bayazid, (an ancient Islamic Mystic), who once said this about himself:
I was a revolutionary when I was young, and all my prayer to God was, “Lord, give me the energy to change the world.” As I approached middle-age and realized that half my life was gone without changing a single soul, I changed my prayer to, “Lord, give me the grace to change all those who come in contact with me. Just my family and friends, and I shall be satisfied.” Now that I am an old man and my days are numbered, my one prayer is, “Lord give me the grace to change myself.” If I had prayed for this right from the start, I should not have wasted my life.
Wise words indeed for all of us. I don’t know about you, but I occasionally get caught up with whatever is happening around me, trying to figure out a way to convince others they are mistaken. Unfortunately, this battle within myself does nothing to “solve” issues or disagreements, it just makes it easier to cling to my own sense of right or wrong.
Christ compels us to give up our internal struggle to control what is happening outside ourselves and to trust in His ways. We sometimes feel pressured to conform to worldly beliefs, values and situations. Instead, we are called to become salt and light to the world. We are asked to be truthful and honest, to become peace-makers when conflicts arise; to work together with others to eliminate injustice in a peaceful manner. Christ calls us to become faith-filled, forgiving, generous, humble, kind and fair people in the world. These are the qualities and traits of what it means to be a disciple. These are the honorable, just, pure and excellent traits of a disciple.
There are struggles with evil in our world. Terrorism, poverty and countless local and global issues and problems can overwhelm us with anxiety. God asks us to be people of courage when we live in a culture that tries to turn wrong into right and darkness into light.
This does not mean that we are to disregard our values, our sense of justice or integrity. It does mean that when we are only concerned with our own agenda or opinions, we create anxiety in ourselves, which in turn makes us prideful and self-indulgent, refusing to hear what others have to contribute.
We will not circumvent the difficulties of life. When we learn to trust in Christ, to call on His name and to find peace and strength in prayer, we create the inner desire to change ourselves to become the person who is quick to listen, cautious to speak, and slow to anger.
“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just or pure, lovely or gracious, excellent or worthy of praise, think about these things.” ~Philippians 4
May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding guard your heart and minds in Christ Jesus.