Anton Cobb decided to help the local food bank in Portland, Oregon. So he put a checkered cloth on a table in a busy area near his office. He sat there during his lunch break next to a sign which read, "I am skipping lunch. So that 30 children won't. Will you join me? Donate your lunch money to the Oregon Food Bank."
He created hOURLUNCH to encourage others to do the same. On the hOURLUNCH Facebook page he says, "Your $10 lunch money will buy a great burrito . . . OR lunch for 30-100 CHILDREN!" His strategy has inspired a remarkable response. People have been donating and posting photos to his Facebook page. In total, one man's benevolence has provided 28,992 meals for hungry children in his city.
It's easy to think our world is too broken and too needy for one person to make much of a difference. We're watching the Ebola epidemic continue to spread. A landslide in Sri Lanka has killed more than 100, while an unstoppable lava flow in Hawaii threatens an entire town. On the moral front, consider the "Sexy Ebola Containment Suit" now being marketed for Halloween. It features a short white dress, face shield, breathing mask, safety goggles and blue latex gloves. What would Ebola patients and survivors think?
But discouragement is always the wrong response to challenges. Polio killed or paralyzed half a million people every year before one man developed a vaccine that halted the global epidemic. Most thought heavier-than-air flight was impossible before two brothers invented the world's first successful airplane. You're reading this Cultural Commentary because a British computer science invented the World Wide Web. Liberian farmers quarantined due to Ebola cannot plant or harvest crops, but Texans raised money through a Hunger Offering that sent enough pre-prepared meals to feed one million people.
There's no doubt that a single person can change the world. From John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald to Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Paul II, history bears the fingerprints of key individuals whose actions changed everything. But if you want your life to benefit the world forever, you'll need more than courage and skill—you'll need divine inspiration.
King Solomon was by reputation the wisest man who ever lived. You would think a book containing his accumulated wisdom would be a bestseller from his day to ours. Such a book did in fact exist; it was called "the Book of the Acts of Solomon" (1 Kings 11:41). But it's vanished without a trace. Meanwhile, a tiny letter written by a prisoner on behalf of a runaway slave (the New Testament book of Philemon) has been studied for 20 centuries because the Holy Spirit inspired it.
Nothing you do today may make the news tomorrow. But everything you do today in obedience to God's Spirit will be recorded and rewarded forever. Whether God is calling you to feed hungry children or to touch hungry souls, you have a Kingdom assignment of eternal significance. And your obedience will change your culture in ways you may not see this side of glory.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons." What sermon will your life preach today?