As I'm writing this the world counter online says there are over 7.4 billion people on the earth. Approximately 358,000 children were born today and roughly 150,000 people breathed their final breath. About 21,000 people die each day from hunger. All these statistics make us numb and make us feel small, but here's something that shocks me. It is estimated that you and I likely know about 600 people. That's a small world to live inside in the context of 7.4 billion people around the world. Want to make it even smaller? Statistics say that the average person knows about 10-25 people enough to trust them. (a) I realize there are always exceptions to every statistic, but it truly is amazing how little of the world we actually see and interact with on a daily basis. In reality, these friendships are few and far between as we pass by thousands upon thousands of people and don't even think about it. The question is; How well do you value those 20 or so people that you currently trust?
I think what worries me in the age of social media and technology is that discipleship is often done through our phone screens rather than face to face. Facebook and Twitter have come to be pulpits for our ideals and for our reactions to the world around us. I have found it's easier for me to say things to people behind my phone rather than looking people in the eye. The noise of dismissal and superiority are deafening on social media. How many people have you dismissed today? How many people have you overlooked? Thank God for mercy in trying to love each other well. We fail at it more than we could ever realize.
Somehow in God's crazy design you are reading this right now and I am someone you know in some social capacity and you decided to read this. I value your time and that you chose to read this, and I value you probably much more than I have stated to you. I know personally that one of the greatest desires I have is to express what I'm feeling in my heart and to have it be understood. I don't think I am alone in that desire. I believe the greatest ache on our planet right now is by hurting people wanting to be seen and heard. They are your friends, coworkers, and family. They need you!
So today I'm focusing on the value of each individual. The value of loving each other as Christ loves us. I hope this can express the desire God has to use the church to disciple one another just like he discipled 12 young men. I believe the greatest struggle of a ministry internally is to care about each individual as much as the congregation as a whole. We are one body made up of many parts. Each part is vital for the success of the entire body. I hate to be the guy that makes sweeping statements, but I truly believe that the church is failing in valuing individuals above the seats they occupy. We have to get back to the basics and start from there.
I often look at these massive worship events like Onething or Passion and I see 20,000 young people worshipping Jesus together which is an amazing thing! But I often think about what happens when music and teaching stop. I remember when I was 17 years old and I was just one person among those 20,000. In my heart, I was signing up to follow Jesus for the first time in my life. As I made the decision to start following Jesus I was worried about the world I was going back to once the conference was over. In fact, I thought about it the entire 8-hour car ride back to Minnesota. I knew I would be walking into a life I had built with no real accountability and no Christian friends. I knew I would be trying to tear down the facade of a good Christian that I had built to actually build something real. In plain terms; I really needed someone who was like me. I wasn't looking for answers to questions as much as I was looking for a friend to walk with me and be there when I stumbled to help me to get back up.
There are plenty of people out there who are willing to mentor someone which basically is a nice way saying you see yourself above them. My question is are you willing to be a friend? Are you willing to stand beside those that need you? Are you willing to get over how long you've known Christ to actually be like Christ to someone? What if your calling isn't to impact thousands but rather to impact the faces you see every single day. What if the church valued each person the way Christ does? What if the monotony of everyday life was tricking you from seeing the treasure that is found in the people you see each and every day?
3 quick practical ways to apply this in real-life interactions
1. Be present in your conversations. Value the person you're talking to by being focused on them.
2. Listen. Encourage them. Point to the Bible and to Jesus. Don't act like you know everything!
3. Tell the people you care about that you care about them. Simple, but so important!
"By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another"- John 13:35