My parents were married on July 13th, 1968. As I stood looking at their wedding pictures a number of years ago, I noticed something obvious that I had missed up until then.
"Dad, why was your family not at the wedding?"
My parents were both born and raised in Denmark although they had met and married in Toronto. My mother's family immigrated when she was only eleven years old while my father came years later on his own. His response to my question is something I have pondered much since then.
"You don't realize that back then you didn't just jump on an airplane to go for a wedding even if it was your son or brother's wedding."
That's not such a remarkable response, is it?
In all the history of the world, in the history of all mankind, we are the first generation that has the privilege travel and communication on such an enormous scale. We are the first ones capable of bringing unprecedented influence and change globally.
My grandparents were both born in the late 1800's and have since made the journey to another City. Back then, news of famine or war or tsunami was heard of with much delay. It would have come to them perhaps as half-rumor and half-truth. Information they received from far away could not be trusted much less acted on given their lack of resources and poor timing.
In the 1960's, a man named Marshall McLuhan, a University of Toronto professor, coined the phrase "global village". He envisioned a time when the world would change and become smaller through the advance of communications and technology.
Today, you and I live in that world.
Today we watch the world's events unfold from the comfort of our couches as we see it "live on CNN". Tsunami's in Asia. Famine in Africa. We see children dying due to simple lack of simple medication and the basic "rights" of food and water. Like Lazarus placed at the gate of the rich man, hoping to stir compassion, we have the needy from around the world placed at our gate as we turn on the TV or read Yahoo news or flip through radio stations. We cannot escape Lazarus these days. These things are no longer half-rumor and half-truth as they were a generation ago. We are the first to have the tremendous privilege to not just watch it "live", but more importantly to act on it and make an impact across the globe.
Privilege is a two-edged sword, however, since with it comes a tremendous responsibility.
I don't believe that any generation prior to this present one will be held globally responsible like ours. "When much is given, much wil be required."
Think of all we can do to make a difference! We have the ability to invest our time, talent and treasure in a way that no previous generation has ever been able to. We have been given incredibly much here in the West.
But it has not been given to be used exclusively for ourselves.
Thousands of years ago, God gave a promise to three consecutive generations, first to Abraham, and then Issac and Jacob. "I will bless you so that you will be a blessing to the nations." (Gen.12) Blessing has been given to us for a purpose. That purpose is not to live the most comfortable life possible but rather to use what we have been given to be agents of change both locally as well as globally. Today, that promise still stands. We are designed to be channels and not reservoirs of all God has given to us.
We are living our lives in a new world. Unlike Columbus, many of us are not even aware of this new land we walk in. We have within our grasp, tools that no other generation in the history of mankind has ever had. We can and must be agents of change not just in our local communities, but especially now on a global scale as we pray and dream together with our Maker.
What is He asking you to do in this New World?