If you’re involved in any form of social media, you’ve probably run across your fair share of awareness campaigns. Seemingly every day is a “Day” for making the world aware of something or other. And whether people are “standing with” a certain group, flying a virtual flag, adorning your profile with digital ribbons, or simply re-posting graphics or tweets; we’ve all seen it! None of these are as big as 2014’s Ice Bucket Challenge, in which people posted videos of themselves getting ice water poured over their heads in the name of – well, does anyone remember what? In the process, they were supposed to nominate others to do the same. Maybe, depending on who was telling the story, there was also a call to donate money. Or was it donate money or dump ice water? The Guardian did a story on this particular campaign, saying that the Challenge “plays on the fact people often have narcissistic tendencies on their own social media feeds and enjoy an excuse to post images and videos of themselves.” But hey, narcissism or no, isn’t it great to push awareness?
(“I feel so aware!!”)
(My personal favorite is more cryptic. Someone posts an embarrassing or incomprehensible sentence on Facebook and then waits to see who will react. Anyone who does then gets a private message letting them know this was an awareness campaign for something or other, and now they are required to post their own embarrassing or incomprehensible sentence. Yes, that’s right – we even have secret awareness campaigns.)
Today is World Autism Awareness Day, for example. Despite the presence of the word “Awareness” in the name of the day, I would humbly submit that the intent of the day is less about making people aware that autism exists and more about doing something about it. Some hopes for days like this would be to build greater acceptance, find ways to promote inclusion and rights, and look for ways to help and support those with autism. These things (and more) are all things we should be doing with regard to autism, and awareness is the first step, but it isn’t the point!
James puts it better than I do on that topic:
“If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?” James 2:15-16 [NASB]
In other words, when we come across needs around us, it doesn’t help anyone if we simply walk around in a heightened state of intellectual awareness. Awareness is only beneficial when it leads to action.
But don’t think I’m just talking about social issues. It also follows that awareness should lead to action when it comes to saving faith. A few verses later, James writes this:
“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” James 2:19 [NIV]
A pastor friend of mine used to say that faith has three components: 1) knowing truth, 2) believing truth, and 3) acting on truth. Awareness only accounts for the first step! In our experience and context, we have no trouble finding people who have some awareness of Jesus. We even run across those who believe the Bible is true. The difficult step is moving beyond the “one foot in, one foot out” stage – taking the step of faith to give Jesus reign over one’s life. Yes, disciples of Christ need to help people become aware of the Gospel. But faith is more than simple head knowledge.
How is awareness leading to action in your walk?