The definition of the word include is to place in an aggregate, class, or category. Being included is easy. I can be included in a conversation by merely being present at the right time or place. I can be included on an email chain even if I have no desire to be. I can be included in a church body or an organization without so much as lifting a finger.
The definition of the word invest is to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something. The main difference between involve and invest is the outcome of the action. Many times I have been involved in a conversation and have never invested my opinions, thoughts, or attention to reaching any outcome, let alone a positive one.
Many people talk about peace in the Middle East as if it is just going to happen. I, myself, was a member of that group. I talked about it, but said nothing of how or in what way I could make a difference. We do this because it feels good to be included. People everywhere include themselves in one people group or cause in order to gain identity.
But real identity grows out of investment. And investment grows out of involvement.
My personal investment in the promotion of peace in the Middle East grew out of my involvement with the Preemptive Love Coalition. I first became interested when I met Cody Fisher, and he told me about his passion for the Iraqi and Kurdish people and the work Preemptive Love does to promote peace between communities at odds. My involvement grew as I learned more about them and heard of their summer internship program. It slowly turned into investment over the course of the next year beginning when I liked their Facebook page. It grew when I would occasionally repost something that they put up and tell my friends about this awesome non-profit. This investment was nurtured through prayer for peace, and began to blossom when I applied to the internship program.
Now I am even more invested in promoting peace and spreading love (through graphic design) to a people who have suffered brokenness and hate for generations. It is through this I am beginning to see my true identity. I see where I fit into the picture, and I'm excited to watch that picture come together.
I've now been in Iraq for 5 weeks working as a design intern for Preemptive Love, and I'm amazed to see how many people want this peace that we sometimes talk so flippantly about. The best part is that it isn't the unachievable fantasy I used to believe in. All it takes is a little investment. A dollar here, a tweet or status update there. Involvement can grow fairly easily (and sometimes unbeknownst to us) into investment. For me it started with a conversation and developed into a commitment. By reading this entire post, you've already been included.
Why not take it a step further?