Reacting vs. Responding

The social justice world is full of people who react. We react to people who are hungry. We react to people who are marginalized. We react to pipelines, and privilege, and racism, and leaders who say things we disagree with. We react to situations where we see that something is broken and we know things could be different, more whole and healthy.

But, what if we aren’t called to react?

Stick with me here. I’m not saying that we should cast the powerful call of Jesus aside, but what if reacting to the need is not what Jesus is calling us to do? What if he instead is calling us to respond to him.

The difference between reacting to a need and responding to the person of Jesus may be slight in appearance, but I think it is a powerful and important difference, especially if we are committed to transformation – both in ourselves and in the world.

If we spend our time reacting to the needs around us, we will end up overwhelmed with busy-ness, discouraged, and burnt out. If instead we learn to recognize and respond to the voice of God in our lives, we will be invited into what he is doing – purposeful action, with hope that multiplies. As we become more and more attuned to the voice and actions of God in our lives and in the world around us, we will become more able to recognize when he is prompting us to get moving… as well as when he might be asking us to sit still.

what if the difference between reacting and responding is my own restoration? Click To Tweet

This is a restorative rhythm. One in which we posture ourselves as learners and listeners; leaning in toward God’s heart; acknowledging that our own need for transformation and restoration is tied up with that of the rest of creation. Acknowledging that God is the Restorer, not us.

Now, God will do what God will do, and my reaction is not necessarily going to get in His way, but what if the difference between reacting and responding is my own restoration?

Responding and reacting can look very similar. Not every involved “woke” person is reacting. And God is on the move regardless, but the potential for our transformation when we attune ourselves to him is so much more expansive.

So how do you make the shift from reacting to responding? I think a good place to start is in Jesus instructions for rest.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 12: 28-30, MSG)

Walk with Jesus and work with Jesus. Watch how he does it. Look for his invitation into what he is doing. Acknowledge that it is HE who is doing it, and we who are participating.

“Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.” (Ephesians 2: 7-10, MSG)