Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What Matters Most- 2- People

Christianly, people matter. There is no way around it: people do matter. Jesus quotes the Old Testament when he says: "Love God with all your heart, soul and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself." We are to love God as we love noone else. We love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

In a seminary course on Christian ministry, the professor asked the students to tell their stories of how God called them to the ministry. Overwhelmingly, the students answered that God was calling them because they loved people. The professor commented that he wondered if they had actually met any of these people they loved so much.

One of the great tear-jerking songs on the seventies, I think, was Barbara Streisand singing: "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." As a Pastoral Counselor at times, I have learned that sometimes needing people too much is sick.

Having said all that, and knowing just how difficult it is to work out this love when it comes to actual people, people matter to God. And, if we are Christian disciples, people matter to us.

Of course, we in the church are still working out what that means for us. First, how do we love our neighbors in the same Sunday School class and across the sanctuary. I have known people who worshiped together and never spoke to each other because they couldn't stand each other. I have know people, as have you, who believe that some people are more important than others. I have watched as Christians fought for power in a local church.

On the one hand, I can say, and often do say, that people are people. We are, even though we are Christians, human beings. So, we are sinners, too. We fall short, etc. But at some point in our Christian walk, we are expected to move on.

Alcoholics Anonymous does a masterful job, most of the time, teaching its members that they must reconcile with those whom they have hurt in their lives. It's part of the twelve-step program.

We need an equivalent to that in the church. And, in many cases, we do see Christians who are working/praying their way to peace and reconciliation. Our relationship to God is tied closely to our relationships with others.

Love you neighbors- your spouses, your ex-spouses, your children, your parents, your brother/sister, the one across the street or around the world. People matter to God. People matter to Christian disciples.

It bothers me a bit (and I do love animals) that we spend more on our pets in this country than we do on programs to feed the hungry. We justify it by saying that animals are innocent. People have gotten themselves into their own messes.

That's right in many cases. And yet, the church is the people of God in Christ, and Christ died for all. (Romans 5:8)

Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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