The constant stream of news from so many different sources can make discerning the truth, the heart of things, difficult. And it can make getting caught up and unnecessarily involved really easy. Every day a new reason to be outraged comes across social media feeds. Stories from across the street and around the world are quickly made visible to us. It can be very easy to focus on the issues of these stories instead of the people. Each story these days seems to have huge, dramatic implications. I understand that some really do have huge, dramatic implications, but so many things reported are pretty much just gussied up gossip. It makes it hard to see truth and, just as importantly, to see the people inside the stories.
Pictures of events come across our screens. We talk about the issues at hand and look at the pictures without seeming to connect with the fact that they are real people whose lives matter. And what seems to get lost the most is that at the core every person has the same basic, fundamental need: Jesus. No need in anyone’s life is more important than the need for Christ’s redemptive love. We can feed, clothe, and care for people all we want, but if we never tell them about Jesus it doesn’t matter. We can rail against people and try to stir up hate and fear against them, but that won’t change the situation.
It can be easy to be fearful of the actions of an “enemy” and have that fear turn to hate or at the very least an utter lack of concern for them. As followers of Christ we have one real enemy: Satan. Yes, people allow themselves to be used of him, but there is hope for every person on this earth as long as they still live. From the moment of conception a person is not a lost cause until their last breath has left their body. What if we started looking at people by their most basic need-whether or not they know Christ?
It’s easy to distance ourselves by saying, “But so and so did x, y, and z.” And? Aren’t we all sinners? Don’t we all require the redemptive blood of Christ? What gives us the right to Christ that others shouldn’t have? If you know and love God someone had to introduce you to Him, had to pray for you, had to care that your most basic need was met. These stories are about people. Start looking beyond the issues and look for the people.
When a story about a natural disaster comes out, look at the faces in the pictures, think about how their lives have been impacted, pray that this disaster will draw them to the God who loves them. When stories about horrific events of kidnapping, dismemberment, destruction, and terror from Africa and the Middle East get frequent play on news sites, think not only of the pain of the victims, but also of the perpetrators. When you read stories of how devastating and pervasive human trafficking is, consider how complicated the issue is and all the many, many people involved that must be hurting and broken on all sides.
What if the traffickers came to Christ and used their routes as ways to spread God’s mercy and love? What if the people terrorizing so many in Africa and the Middle East came to Christ and went back to the places they destroyed to ask for forgiveness and help rebuild? What if we look at natural disasters as opportunities for Light to shine in places it may not have before? What if we pray for people and think about them as broken human beings in need?
I am not at all saying we shouldn’t stand in solidarity with victims, with those in need who are hurting and helpless. They absolutely need our help and we should do what we can to help them. What I am saying is that they aren’t the only people involved who need help. We are commanded to take the Gospel to all nations, to all peoples, to care and love those who hurt themselves and others. God does not discriminate in who He loves. His love is wide and deep and encompasses so much more than our finite minds. God’s love is patient and His love is kind. His love does not envy, is not boastful, is not conceited, does not act improperly, is not selfish, is not provoked, and does not keep a record of wrongs. God’s love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. God’s love never ends. (I Corinthians 13:4-8a, additions and emphases mine)
At the core of all human beings is the most basic and fundamental need that only God can fulfill. If we seek God and ask Him to give us love like His we are much more likely to see people based on their core need of Christ instead of for the sensationalized news story they may be involved in. ALL people should have the opportunity to know how this need can be met. ALL. LIVES. MATTER.