This article is shared by Kristine K. Lowder
Do you remember the jingle? It’s the catchy tune from one of TV’s top shows of yester-year:
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name. …
Sound familiar now? Of course. It’s the theme song to Cheers, one of NBC’s longest running and most successful sitcoms. Mind if I ask you something? When was the last time you exhibited the sort of sensitivity or acceptance evident at Boston’s favorite bar? When’s the last time you noticed:
· The hollow, vacant eyes beneath the plastic smile.
· The father of four who politely declines Sunday’s “let’s all go out for lunch after the service” invitation, citing a “prior engagement” that’s more fictional than her empty wallet is factual.
· Circle-the-wagon “huddle-ups” where everybody has a huddle. Except one.
· The student who slumps off to one side of the playground, head down, eyes averted. He’s the one standing alone after the team “choose up sides.”
· Elderly neighbors whose shuffling feet, clogged ears or failing eyes are mistaken for ineptitude.
· The vociferous co-worker whose loquacious ways mask a loneliness as deep as the Marianas Trench.
· The “got-it-all-together” pastor’s wife whose wayward child has chosen a bottle as his best friend – and she thinks she can’t tell a soul.
· Sipping her tea in invisibility, she’s the shy, reticent mom who’s exiled to social Siberia while the “power members” of the group cluster in one corner and coordinate calendars and plans without her.
· The nervous, skittish neighbor whose interpersonal fences rival the Great Wall of China. Each board is carefully crafted to hide her husband’s closet porn addiction.
· The high schooler sporting glasses, a “tin grin,” acne or Wal-Mart labels instead of brand names – and the frostbitten scars of rejection.
· A single mom whose searing pain is camouflaged as anger.
These are the isolated, the lonely, the rejected and forgotten. Who knows their names? Where can they go to “take a break” and “get away”? Where can they can go and see “our troubles are all the same?” Who is “always glad they came”?
Mom, we live in tear-stained world. Unfortunately, we sometimes exude the warmth of a polar bear convention inside an ice palace. The sad fact is that needy, hurting folks are often more welcome at the local bar than at the local house of worship. So let’s think for a minute. How many of these “nameless” folks has God placed in your path today? Do you think they’re there by accident? Sure, it’d be a lot easier to let someone else “know their name.” To turn away and pretend you don’t see. But the God who made these people, can’t. And those of us who claim to be His followers shouldn’t, either. So here’s an idea: how ‘bout another “tune”? Jesus’ lyrics go like this:
… Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;
and Love your neighbor as yourself.
The idea is total devotion, first to God and then to others. Here’s the second verse:
A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.
(John 13:34, 25.)
You see, self-sacrificing, unconditional love over the long haul creates a special bond. It’s created by God’s love for us. And it’s meant to be shared. (Incidentally, loving fellow believers—and others–with this kind of love is an imperative, not a suggestion.)
When we share God’s love with others, ask yourself this: what would our world look like if we loved each other with such total devotion that the faith community replaced Cheers as the place “where everybody knows your name” and “they’re always glad you came”?
Kristine K. Lowder