Learning to See all the People

SeeAllThePeople_Facebook-og

It seems that privacy (even in relationships) is really hard to come by these days with a world that is ever connected.  Have you ever thought to yourself, the world might be better without cell phones?

The world is connected in an instant … need proof?  You are reading this blog!

(Gotcha!)

Some of you I don’t even really know me, but for this connection. And yet I am somehow connected to you via this thing called the internet.

The beauty of this connected world is that it can break down the divisions that often keep us apart – things like economics, race, income, social status, etc.  The end result is that Social Division and Personal Isolation have decreased … sort of … this connected world has also led to a mixed bag of outcomes that means Social Division and Personal Isolation have increased. 

You see our globally connected world has caused us to lose some of the common practices in our daily lives that brought about community.  In the past two decades:

  • Attendance at community club groups is down 58%
  • Daily Family Dinners have decreased by 43%
  • And the simple practice of having friends over has decreased by 35%

There are 7 Billion people in the world all connected at an instant and yet they are learning to live life alone while remaining connected to one another.  That is the irony of the ever-connected world …

I wish I could tell you that this problem has eluded the church.  After all from the beginning while Jesus called each of us individually to come together through Him, we have seemed to find ways to keep one another at a distance because of Him.

What is most often translated church in the Bible is really Ecclessia, A Greek word, meaning a gathering of the called out ones – that is us – that is the church.

This Ecclessia (gathering) was to be the cornerstone of our life together as disciples.

For [Christ] Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility  Ephesians 2:14 NIV

I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.  John 17:11 NIV

You see, living our faith in this world cannot done be alone. That was never the plan! And yet, the history of our faith has not played out that way.  As Christians, through the centuries (and still today), we hold onto divisions both inside the church and outside.

We mark our territories … by theology, by creed, by race, by economics, by politics. As a result, instead of the church being a place of unity, we have become a house divided unto ourselves.  Fighting over petty things … that in the totality of our existence as a gathering of the called out ones doesn’t matter!

And that was never the plan for each of us. Our call was to love God and love one another.  And that love is more than just a connection … it is a relationship.

The proof of this is FACEBOOK. Of the many friends that you have connected with … how many do you have a relationship with?  A real relationship … call them in the middle of the night … have them take the call.

We have learned to settle for connection … and in so doing we have come to believe that connection is the same as relationship.

In answering God’s call in our lives, we are called to live our faith together.  And our coming together is something quite unexpected.  The reality of it is this … look around … we are not the same … #see all the people … our coming together is quite unexpected … the only thing that could possibly bring us together is the call of God in our lives.

And the irony of our coming together as individuals is that we need each other.  We do our best work together. That is a cornerstone of Methodism – we can do more together than we can separately.

You see … this call we each receive is never a call to isolation … it can’t be … You love others when you are in relationship with them … not simply connected to but in relationship with!

And that is the church – the gathering of the Ecclesia – or the Called Ones. We are called out of this world (as exiles) to practice together our calling to Love God and Love others.

And that means that ‘my call’ will only truly discovered in the context of ‘our call.’

It is then, and only then, that we will be free to live our calling as individuals and as a church. And boy do we need to get better at living our call – individually and as a church.

That’s in part why we gather each week – we need the practice.

That’s why we encourage you to get involved with a small study group.

Because every time we gather together – we each bring our brokenness, our loneliness, our emptiness, our disconnection with us. And yes, the result is that our life together in community is often more broken than whole – more divided than one … and that is okay … as long we as continue together to practice and practice and practice – in order to get better … to get it right …

Because when we as a community of Called Ones get it right … it is a wonderful thing! The trouble for many is that those countless moments of getting right go un-noticed by most of the world.

And I know that there are also times we get it wrong (and boy do they get noticed!) and that is in part why we must keep coming back together — to rehearse — in hopes of getting it wonderfully right again …

So don’t give up on us … Help us by learning to spread that message of hope and love for something more … Answer the call and be part of the voice that calls others to God …

We want to be a place in this world … in this community … where God is loved first and fore most and our love of God drives us to love others … We won’t be perfect … and it won’t always be pretty or easy … Some of our difficulties in living out this call our summarized in the great quote:

“I love humanity; it is people I can’t stand” 

I am still convinced that statement was uttered by someone having just left a church committee meeting (But I could be wrong).

Our difficulty is that it is the people and not humanity that we are called to love … We are connected to humanity … we are to be in loving relationships with people!

And it is those people that We are called to love tenderly and to serve faithfully.

We are called together to live this calling … and we are called to practice it over and over until we get right.

So I urge you to seek one another out … and practice loving one another … and keep practicing until we can always get it right … day after day … moment after moment.

Author:

I am a United Methodist Pastor and have the privilege of serving as the Senior Pastor for the church of my childhood. I preach in a place I once was an acolyte. I love to preach, but more importantly I love to teach. I firmly believe that Faith Matters and should affect how we live. This blog is a place where I come to share the randomness that is life and faith ... and the intersection of the two.

One thought on “Learning to See all the People

  1. Thanks Rodney, you have a great way of hitting the nail right on the head – smack in the middle of where it ought to be. Great observation on the difference between connection and relationship. .

    Like

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