Q & R: Overwhelmed? Judgmental?

Here’s the Q:

I recently finished reading “A New Kind of Christianity.” I want to thank you for giving voice to what so many of us have been thinking (but are often too afraid to say!). I have been mulling it over ever since, and I have two questions.
First, how can we avoid feeling overwhelmed and discouraged? I look around me and I see an ocean of need–poverty, hunger, illness, broken relationships, prejudice, the oil spill–and I have no idea where to start. It all seems important, but there is only one of me. I only have so much time, energy and financial resources. Do we just focus on the one or two things where we really feel the Spirit’s leading? Are some things more important than others?
Second, how can we avoid creating a new list of what we believe are “God’s do’s and don’ts,” much like some have interpreted the letters of Paul? What starts off as a desire to bless others and do the right thing ends in self-righteousness or extremism. For example, I know some Christians who equate being vegan with being Godly. But I grew up in a family with two parents both of whom had eating disorders. Any form of very strict eating is not possible for me, but I feel the sting of judgment every time. At the same time, I am passionate about sharing all the wonderful financial blessings I’ve been given, and I tend toward being judgmental of others who don’t feel the same way. How do we handle our differences?

Reply after the jump.

Two great questions.
First, on being overwhelmed – I would definitely be overwhelmed if I didn’t have faith. I believe that God’s Spirit is at work in our world – including in you and me. Our desire to make a difference is a sign of the Spirit’s work, and the same Spirit is kindling hope and vision in millions of people all around.
By the way, that’s why my next book is going to focus on the spiritual life. We need to learn how to access the Spirit’s infusion of hope, faith, love, power, confidence, endurance, and vitality. I’ve been following Christ for about forty years now, so I feel I have some field-tested insights to offer. More on title and content soon.
Second, on becoming judgmental or extremist – you’re so right to be concerned about this. This again comes back to faith. If we think this all depends on us, we’ll take matters into our own hands and our ego will get involved. People will feel ego-pressure from us, trying to conform them to our image. But if we’re living from the well and wind of the Spirit, people will feel something very different from us – hope, permission, encouragement, possibilities.
I really liked your statement, “some Christians equate being vegan with being Godly.” You could substitute any number of words for vegan – I won’t even begin to suggest possibilities, but I’d like to suggest we stick with one: gracious. If we equate being gracious with being Godly, we’ll be less prone to become holier-than-thou Pharisees. I hope that helps!