As a Matter of Fact, You Matter
By Brenda Black
“There are 6.8 billion people on the planet,” says a Forbes headline in its Nov. 22, 2010 issue. “These are the 68 who matter.” The opening paragraph on p. 76 begins: “We are fascinated by power. We stand in awe of those who apply it adroitly – and in fear of those who abuse it. We lust for power. Everyone would rather be a hammer than a nail. The people on this list were chosen because in various ways, they bend the world to their will. They are heads of state, major religious figures, entrepreneurs and outlaws...”
What a sad indictment for the remaining billions of us! I despise the pugnacious assumptions and arrogant overtones of such a declaration because I've read something elsewhere that trumps Forbes' editorial angst. You'll find it written in red in the book of John, chapter 3: “'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) You matter. When the world screams insignificance, remember God's lavish attention toward all of us on this planet – not just the proud or powerful.
If you have fallen prey to such hollow mandates telling you fame and fortune are the determining factors for a life to have purpose, think again. Charles Schultz, the creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip challenges that perspective with a quiz. You don't have to actually answer the questions below. Just read straight through, and you'll get the point.
1) Name the five wealthiest people in the world. 2) Name the last five Heisman trophy winners. 3) Name the last five winners of Miss America. 4) Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize. 5) Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress. 6) Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.
How did you do? The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday. The answers to the above questions are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz. See how you do with this one: 1) List a few teachers who aided your journey through school. 2) Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time. 3) Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile. 4) Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special. 5) Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
These names are right on the tip of your tongue. They dwell in the depths of your heart and reside in the recesses of your mind. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the grandest credentials, the most money, or the prestigious awards. They are the ones that show you matter. When the world screams insignificance, remember your friends' lavish attention.
As a matter of fact, God's gracious attention toward us often comes through the love of others. His mysterious desire to dwell in the midst of humanity is beautifully manifested when we love one another like He loves us.
“'As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.'” (John 15:9-17)
While Forbes' article featured the rich and famous of the world, God's roster of significant people includes only those who call Him Lord. But the rewards for the significantly saved will not deteriorate. His lavish love is eternal. And that's a fact because you matter.
During the holidays, please remember those who may feel invisible or insignificant or alone this time of year. Be God's friend. Be their friend. Show them in a loving way how they matter to you and to Him.