I have to admit that I’ve been really grumpy lately. Grumpy and sad. It seems like every day I hear about or read about some hugely controvertial event that everybody in the whole world is either entirely for or vehemently against. Story after story pops up on my Facebook feed – guns, gorillas, bathrooms, babies – and on and on it goes. Take a quick scroll through the comments of any of these news stories and you’ll feel like there is no end to what we will fight about. And everyone is an expert. On everything. Blech. So I’m grumpy. And weary. And ready for all the fighting to end.
But I’m not three. So I know better. The fighting will never end. It will continue on and on until Jesus returns and completes what He began at the manger.
In her book, Carry On Warrior, Glennon Doyle Melton writes, “I love God, whoever he is, and I’d really like to get closer to him. I’ve been thinking about how one of the simplest ways to get close to a woman is to be good to her children. To be kind and gentle and to pay close attention to the things that make them special. To try to see her children the way she sees her children. And how God made us in his image. How he is the mother and father of all of us. So I wonder if that would be the best way to get closer to him too. By being kind and gentle to his children and noticing all of the things that make them special. So many of us spend our time trying to find God in books, but maybe the simplest way to God is directly through the hearts of his children.”
Man, that’s good.
The best way to get to know the heart of an artist is to study his art. The best way to understand the heart of an author is to study the books they’ve created. The best way to understand a songwriter is to listen to the songs they’ve written. So it would make sense that the best way to get to know the heart of the Father is to study his creation. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:31 says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.”
I’ve recently been reading a book called The Very Good Gospel by Lisa Sharon Harper. At the beginning of her fabulous book, she talks about what God meant when he said that his creation was “very good”. She says this:
At the end of the sixth day, the writers declare, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good [tov me’od]. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day” (Genesis 1:31).
Tov is the Hebrew word for “good,” but the word does not refer only to the goodness of the object itself; it also refers to the ties between things. In the Hebrew conception of the world, all of creation is connected. The well-being of the whole depends on the well-being of each individual part.
– The Very Good Gospel, Lisa Sharon Harper, pg 30-31
Our connectedness is what makes us whole and healthy and “very good” in the eyes of our Creator. This connectedness brings peace and love and happiness. It helps us to remember our worthiness and our sense of belonging. It helps us to remember that we are not the center of the universe, but rather an integral part of a beautiful whole that includes everyone. When we remember that we’re connected no one gets left out or left behind. Mother Teresa once said that “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” I believe this is THE reason that we can’t stop fighting. We’ve forgotten that everyone belongs, everyone is worthy, everyone matters. Not just me. Not just you. But everyone.
What if we lived as though everyone mattered? The person in the car we just cut off, the lady in front of us in line at the grocery store who has eight bazillion coupons, the teenaged kid who is bullying other kids because he feels so worthless that he’s afraid someone else might think he’s worthless too, your kid’s teachers – who are doing the very best that they can, your pastor, your in-laws, your kids, your spouse – they all matter. And everyone else that makes you mad, pushes your buttons, wastes your time or makes you feel rotten – they all matter too. And so do you. Not more than everyone else, but just as much.
Can you imagine how the world might change if we thought that way and then let that thinking influence our actions? We might learn to seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood. We might be able to look across the table and find common ground. We might even turn our attention to more important things to fight against – like hunger, sex trafficking or racism.
“I am confident because I believe that I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too.” – Glennon Doyle Melton, Carry On Warrior
Looking at each other as equals requires both humility AND confidence. We can no longer see ourselves as less important, but we can’t see ourselves as more important either. Everyone gets the same score on the scale of value. We all make the cut. In fact, we all hit the bullseye in terms of worth and value. No one misses the mark.
Once we understand all of that, we can learn to build bridges, cross divides and discover new common ground. We may have to build that common ground, but once we see everyone as equally worthy we can begin to mend the hurt and create a new future together. Sounds idealistic, and it is, but I also believe it’s the stuff of the Gospel. Bridge-building, peace making, worthiness, grace, common ground – it’s the stuff of Jesus.