Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The People Who Matter

A few days after Christmas, I was standing in line at a local grocery store buying a few items to replenish our cupboards when a headline from a national publication caught my eye. The magazine in question was reviewing the more spectacular stories of 2007 and heralded the subjects who made their top list as "The Events That Counted, The People Who Mattered, The Stories We'll Remember"." I stared at the cover full of pictures of the famous, the powerful, the wealthy and the influential and thought again about the headline, especially the phrase that spoke of - "The People That Mattered."

I am somewhat bothered by the headline because of what it implies. It strongly implies that there are life events that don't count and "ordinary" people who don't matter. It is particularly bothersome when one considers the wording of the founding documents of the US which declares in bold rhetoric that the equality of all people is a God-given truth; self-evident to all humans in their intrinsic being, and inalienable by anyone. Who could imagine how US history might have differed if the framers had penned, "We hold these truths to be self-evident - that some people are more important than others. That they have a worth - determined by powers deemed acceptable and respectable - above that of others. It is their lives, stories and undertakings that have value in our culture"? I understand that some stories and events that capture our collective imaginations more than others and that there are issues that are of mutual importance to large numbers of people that demand our joint attention. Nevertheless, we must not imply on any level, that some people matter and others don't.

In the coming year, this planet will be faced with innumerable challenges and trials, most involving nameless, faceless masses that will go about their daily lives in relative obscurity. As a follower of Jesus, I know that I have a responsibility to see to it that as much as it is possible with me, I ensure that the people with whom I come in contact understand that they have a God-given worth, and that they are loved and cared for by a loving Heavenly Father who has established a Kingdom not built on human egos, but through a sacrificial Divine love, shown "on a hill far away on an old rugged Cross". I must be willing to assure each person that I meet that they matter, because they have been created by a loving creator who knows the number of hairs on their head (Matthew 10:30) and is well acquainted with the comings and goings of all people to the point of knowing every time they rise and every time they are seated (Psalm 139)!

In 2008, don't fall into the trap of only focusing exclusively on whom and what popular opinion says is important. Remember that in God's economy, while a community celebrated the high profile donation of a rich and powerful mover and shaker, Jesus celebrated the anonymous donation of a lowly, humble elderly woman who went unnoticed by everyone but God(Mark 12:41-44)! Everybody matters and everything counts. Do your best to remind the people you encounter every day this year that they matter to God and they matter to you. Until next time...


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