Intentional Participation: E P I C series

[originally posted on August 1st 2013]

By Jacob Toman

I-Intentional Participation

What does it look like to actually impact and change culture? It sounds all very nice and grand, to live life in a manner that changes the world, but how is that even possible for one person? Divinely inspired plumbing is actually part of the answer, but we will come back to divine plumbing in a bit. 

After deciding to not ignore an area of life but rather engage it, comes prayerful planning, after this comes the actual action of intentionally participating in God's work of impacting culture. While you may be feeling an itch to grab your boots, belt, and banner, and proceed to go on strike, form a march, or picket a wicked ideology. Before you go and do those things there is actually some really intense thought that needs to go into your plans of participating in culture. Just as Nehemiah prayerfully planned out how he would go about God's work in the midst of the king's court, so too you need to put some serious thought into the place God has placed you to be of greatest impact for his Kingdom. 

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

― Mahatma Gandhi

You are a unique person, believer it or not, God has made you the ONLY person in the history of the world who is you. Billions of others have lived, died, and perhaps billions more will come after you, but you are the ONLY you. You have unique gifts and talents and a unique story that meshes with those gifts and talents that have prepared you for exactly the good purposes God has called you to. Intentional Participation in God's big plan requires you to take note of your personal story, and take stock of your talents of gifts. Combining these two aspects of who you are, both gifted, and the protagonist of a particular story, gives a picture of how God made you incredibly unique and has equipped for you many good works.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 

-Ephesians 2:10

When I was at a conference this summer speaking to a group of fellow Christians on the importance of participating in God's big story, one particular young man raised his hand and asked the following question "But how am I, just one person, supposed to change the world?" The individual had a very terrifying look on his face, because he had the look of hope. He was hoping I would finally answer the question that has been plaguing mankind of generations. Hope can be both a beautiful thing, and a terrible thing. Thankfully because God loves his people, the hope we have in him is not a whimsical hope that will never be answered. We Christians are not wishful people, but we are hopeful people. In the answer to this question is the very heart of the gospel and the good news for every person, from every decade of history. One person has already changed the world, and that person Jesus Christ, is the one who now continually equips and prepares his people to continue his work in this world until the time he returns. That one person who already has changed the world, is the same person who strengthens and enables his people to intentionally participate in the global change of God's Kingdom everyday. 

What exactly does intentional participation for the purpose of impacting culture for God's glory look like? It looks like divine equipped living. My favorite example of this is the divinely equipped plumber. Regardless of your personal story, and your individual gifts, God has placed you in a position to impact a people group around you for the glory of God. That could mean your a mother, father, husband, wife, lawyer, marketer, fundraiser, scientist, plumber, soccer player, basketball coach, video game designer, computer engineer, software designer, missionary, preacher, child, student, the list goes on and on. The aspects of our lives that we live in, work in, play in, and have family in, those are the immediate circles in which God has placed us to impact culture and intentionally participate. 

Mario, perhaps the most famous plumber of all time, had a purpose and a plan, and he intentionally participated in each edition of the Mario bros games to play his part in saving Princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. Just like Mario, and our other favorite fictional heroes, we have a particular context we have been placed in, that God has specifically equipped us to impact for his glory through intentional participation. Nehemiah was Cupbearer to the King, Daniel was an adviser, Jesus was a carpenter, David was a shepherd, Mary was a teenage girl, Saul was a murderous fanatic turned passionate missionary. God has given you a unique story and has equipped you for that context to participate in for his glory. 

Prayers for Intentional Participation

 Heavenly Father, How can I get involved in an area of interest?

 Heavenly Father, How have I been gifted and where do those gifts meet a cultural need?