Reaction and Response

The deepest part of every human being longs for his or her life to make a positive impact in the world. We all want, to borrow a phrase from my friend Jimmy, to be a love spreading difference maker. We want our presence to be a force for good. We hope that truth and love come into the world in and through our being.

I find that a great barrier in our pursuit to spread love is not the absence of desire, but rather a lack of capacity. We easily get stuck reacting to life because we haven’t yet learned the art of making a prayer-soaked response to life.

A reaction is automatic, quick, and instinctive. It feels good to react, even when it also paradoxically feels bad. A reaction comes from an unconscious, shallow, and primitive place within us that is concerned with keeping our image intact. When we react, we want to be right and make the other wrong.

A prayer soaked response, on the other hand, comes from a place of depth. When we respond to life, we consciously live in the tension of being part of the problem and the solution at the same time. There is nothing automatic about a response, at least not initially, as a response often feels like we are stepping into a place where a part of us does not want to go (see John 21:18).

What then is the main difference between a reaction and response?

When we react we call down fire from heaven in the hopes that someone else will be consumed (see Luke 9:54).

When we respond to life we find that the fire consumes nothing but our part of the problem, which of course also happens to the solution the world most needs.