Yesterday my teenage son came home from school and was very excited about some of the stuff he was learning about in school (yes, I was in shock, but that's a whole other story!). He is in an environmental science class and the teacher is apparently really good at helping the students understand the importance of recycling and the carbon footprint they are leaving on the earth through choices they make in life.
It's really quite interesting to see my son get so excited about what he's learning. He's already told me that we need to start buying local fruits and vegetables and that we shouldn't eat meat every single day because of what our over-dose in meat in America is doing to the environment. My son takes after me in that he gets very passionate about certain things and I can see his passion has awakened him to do a better job at taking care of our planet - after only 2 days in an environmental science class!
I told him to be careful, though. If he jumped around and yelled at other people about their behavior or tried to tell everyone what they should be doing by sending them on a guilt trip and pointing out all their imperfections, he would run them off. We can have passions in life and make a difference, but we can make the most difference by living it out ourselves, not imposing our beliefs and convictions on others to the point of making them feel more wretched than they already feel. I watch how people walk it out way more than I listen to their rantings about how things need to change. When we feel passionate about something, this can happen quickly, even to well-meaning folks with good motives who just want to make a difference.
I told Tommy to live it out himself, to keep studying and learning what he can do to make a difference and to be ready to answer questions when people ask about cleaning up the earth. I told him to look for opportunities to share his knowledge and experience, but not to be pushy. When people see my son making important changes in his life, see him making healthier changes and choices for the earth, they will ask questions and he can answer them gently and respectfully. He can model this good behavior and be consistent in his life and I guarantee people will notice and follow him. He can inform them as they see his passion lived out, not shouted out.
1 Peter 3:15-17
Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ. Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!