In my 51 years on Earth, I don’t recall a time like this. The longer the COVID-19 pandemic goes, the more depressed we become. It seems like America, in particular, has reached a point of systemic depression. I believe the reason is because the disease is now prevalent in small town America, “fly over” country as it’s often referred to. This is the heart of America, and it’s hurting. As Thanksgiving celebrations are being canceled, genuine depression is setting in. Throw in the chaos of race relations and the discord of politics, and it’s overwhelming.
Yet, I’ve have never felt more strongly called to influence. The disease is real, and the risk of contracting the virus is real, however I practice the “big three” daily … mask up, physically distance and practice good hygiene … and live my life with a joyful hope. Why? How? Because I have been transformed by the renewing of my mind, and therefore I don’t conform to the patterns of this world. Conformance to the worldly patterns is what The Enemy wants. It’s how they gain strongholds in our lives. It’s takes influencers of like mind, heart, soul and spirit to reverse those trends, including our systemic depression.
So here’s a counter-cultural thought I pray more and more Americans, and people of all nations, are influenced to embrace: Everyone is a person to be loved.
- That friend of yours who’s addicted to drugs is a person to be loved.
- Your cousin who is transgender is a person to be loved.
- Your daughter who has come out as a lesbian is a person to be loved.
- Your neighbor next door who is Muslim is a person to be loved.
- That young woman in your church who just got pregnant outside of marriage is a person to be loved.
- Your coworker who is a different color than you is a person to be loved.
- The arrogant CEO who flaunts their wealth is a person to be loved.
As we begin to see people for who they are – created in the image of God – we think less of issues to be solved and instead see people to be loved. As a Christian, this is how I operate. The standard I set for myself is to be the most loving, kind, respectful and teachable “neighbor”, always going the extra mile to understand, to listen and to give grace far beyond what is expected. When it comes to relationships, tone matters as much as, if not more than, substance.
The world can not force anyone to love what they ought to love and hate what they ought to hate. That power belongs to God. He alone has the power to change hearts, but he needs people serving others in His name to influence that change of heart. The change the world groans for belongs to the very God it rejects every day. However, no change occurs unless we see ourselves and others as a person to be loved.