See Christ in Everyone

December 21, 2017

Scripture Reading: Romans 16:25-27

Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

I like Russell Westbrook and commiserate with him when he takes his rest with bags of ice wrapped around his knees. Having had both of mine replaced, I understand some of the challenges of dealing with bad knees. Of course, my chosen profession did not require a well-honed body, which his job as a point guard does. I doubt that the injury he sustained to his knee had much to do with his primary characteristic that garners my respect. He has the tenacity to pursue his goal of winning basketball games that is unsurpassed in the sport. Part of that job is enabling other players to excel. Paul is calling all of Christ’s follower to be tenacious in our work to be Christ’s body in the world today including enabling all of God’s children to excel. The promise that God will strengthen us in such an enterprise accompanies that call.

I recently read someone’s disgruntled reaction as he tried to help the poor and found those he worked with to be unappreciative of his work and unwilling to do anything to help themselves. In 50 years of working with the poor, I too have encounters a few folks like that. They are still children of God made in God’s image, and we still must find ways to help them transition from dependence to be self-sustaining, self-supporting adults. I remember well a couple of families with whom I worked who fit this disgruntled helper’s description. In both instances upon returning to my office to write up a plan of service, I found myself writing as a first goal to change the outcomes for the children. Whether we like it or not, our parents strongly influence who we become. Breaking the cycle of poverty is hard. Think how lost you would be if your life turned upside down and you were on the streets with no place to go and children to feed. What would you do? How do you think that experience would impact your descendants?

I moved away from my hometown some years ago and had since learned that some of the children of those parents, I had written off as impossible, succeeded in school and work. One day while visiting my Mom, I took her to the Walmart store to pick up a few things and ran into one of those impossible adults, a father I had determined to be incorrigible.  He was washing the big windows in the front of the store. I spoke to him, and he grinned at me. Clearly, he was not as hopeless as I had judged him to be.

Prayer: God, strengthen us in your love so that we might see Christ in everyone. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.