Pastor's Column: Community - linking arms with one another
September 12. 2013 12:06PM
Mother Teresa said, “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” One thing that I have come to learn is that there are many people in our world who do not understand how they are loved and valued by God. To some, that is too hard of a concept to grasp, especially if they grew up in a home where the family did not display love in words or actions or did not value relationships with one another. To others, being teased or bullied all of their lives has caused them to devalue and underappreciate themselves, and has also prevented them from feeling loved and valued by the Creator of the universe. Whatever the reason, the devil is working overtime in our society to make people feel worthless, ashamed, unappreciated, unloved, and devalued.
But, the good news is that we can stop listening to the lies that Satan throws our way. We can neutralize the acid that he throws in our direction accusing us of being unwanted and unloved. How? By building one another up, by offering words of encouragement, by showing one another love and support. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, reminds us today to encourage each other and build each other up. And, I don’t know about you, but I think we need more of this in our lives each day. I was amazed to see at the Lifelight Music Festival the many youth lined up in front of a person holding up a sign that read, “Free Hugs.” And, another that was sitting on a chair with a sign that read, “Need to talk, I will listen.” People want to know that they are loved and valued.
This past week, a newly formed community group called “Connections…for a Healthy Community” provided a school assembly program for students in 7th-12th grade for both St. Mary and Dell Rapids Public schools featuring Tom Henderson with Restoration Generation, and musical artists F.O.G. (Flame on Gospel) and Chris Heesch. Their goal was to bring awareness to the need for healthy relationships within the student body and within family units. They also had the Helpline share helpful resources with those in attendance.
That evening, the speaker and musicians continued in the City park with an inspirational message and dance party. It was powerful to see between 300 and 400 of our youth gathered in the park praising God together — there were no defining barriers — athletes and non-athletes, males and females, rich and poor, popular and non-popular, Catholic and Protestant, etc. And, the best part, over 50 youth gave their lives to Jesus Christ! Tom and F.O.G. both spoke of God’s love for us and the importance of encouraging one another in our daily lives. They challenged the students and families to L—link arms with one another, O—become “Others focused”, V—value relationships, E—encourage one another.
Loving one another seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet the problem is that so many people have not fully experienced the love of God and, therefore allowed that love to flow into their relationships of loving one another. Too often we see the aftermath of people we know walking through this life feeling alone, abandoned, and unloved. Some even driven to the point of suicide, feeling that no one cares if they live or die. And that, my friends, is a tragedy.
September is National Suicide Awareness month. Unfortunately, our community has felt the pain of losing valued and loved people to this terrible tragedy. Let us be intentional in our relationships. Let us look for ways that we can link arms with one another, placing our focus on others, and not ourselves. Let us value the relationships that God has given to us, and let us encourage one another through words and deeds. I challenge you to take the words of this Scripture seriously – to encourage each other and build each other up. How? Start by paying someone a sincere compliment. This is one of the greatest gifts you could ever give. Tell them that you appreciate them. Tell them that you are proud of them. Tell them that you love them. We need more encouragement in our daily lives. So, let the love of Jesus overflow into your heart, so that it may in turn overflow into the lives of others.