My news feed tells me that April is “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.” I was kind of surprised. I had no idea that people didn’t know about this. It turns out that April is also Autism Awareness Month, Earth Awareness Month, and Math Awareness Month. People need to be more aware of math?
Our calendar is full of “awareness” months. Apparently, we need to be more cognizant of teen dating violence, brain injuries, asthma, ALS, child support, preparedness, child support, domestic violence, disability employment, cybersecurity, rape, and of course breast cancer.
I have nothing against awareness. It’s important to be aware of things like these. Awareness can lead to understanding, sympathy, and compassion. The problem is that we’re beginning to equate awareness with action. We think that because we slap a bumper sticker or ribbon decal on our car, we’re doing something to help. If we are then motivated to get involved in a more tangible way, great! But if we settle for awareness as an end in itself, we’re just assuaging our troubled consciences.
I realize that this passage is really talking about faith and deeds, but if the Roman Empire had proclaimed “awareness months,” James might have written:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone has awareness but has no deeds? … Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; I’m aware of your problem” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, awareness by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (Based on James 2:14-18).
Raising awareness is a good beginning, but what should we do once we’re aware of a problem? Of course, God only gave us so much time, energy, and resources. There are thousands of worthy causes out there, and we can’t get involved in every one. Still, we need to be doing something. With all the issues out there, surely one has caught your attention. It could be the homeless in your city, finding a cure for a particular disease, or an issue of justice—the causes are as diverse as we are.
How do know which cause is yours? Sometimes God makes it abundantly clear. I know some people who are passionate about orphans, others who are totally focused on ending abortion, and still others who were obviously created to work with troubled teenagers. Others are gifted with specific skills (such as fundraising, evangelism, administration, etc.) and don’t care so much where they’re used—just so long as they further God’s kingdom.
In Ephesians 2:10 Paul tells us, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God had something in mind when He created us!
So, how do you get involved in theses good works? There are lots of ways. You might start by praying—both for the issue at hand and for more people to help. Remember how Jesus told the disciples that the harvest was ripe, and to pray for workers? How did that prayer get answered? Yes—Jesus sent them!
You can help by giving. Some of us have the gift of giving, while others can only give a little. What’s important isn’t the amount, but rather our obedience. Ask God to provide you with resources that you can pass along to others. Another way to support an organization or cause financially is to fund raise. Join a walkathon. Challenge your friends to match your giving. Hold a bake sale. Get creative. You might be amazed at how God uses you to bless others.
You can volunteer some time. For the past 25 years, I’ve volunteered with one organization or another, including whatever church we were attending at the moment, several ministries focused on world evangelization, our county extension’s master gardener program, our local Audubon chapter, and as a docent at a national wildlife refuge. At times all I could spare was a few hours a month. At other times, I could do more. We’re all busy, but if we all pitch in where we can, we can make a significant impact.
Finally, you can help spread the word. Just don’t stop there. When you make someone aware of your cause, make sure to let them know what they can do to help.