Monday, October 31, 2011

7 Billion of Us

It's official. There are now, as of today, October 31, 2011, 7 billion people on the face of the earth according to estimates provided by the Official Bureau of Demographers at the United Nations Population Division (or OBDUNPD for short). In case you have grown numb, as I have, to the size of actual numbers, 7 billion in numerological terms looks like this; 7,000,000,000. (By the way, talk about a thankless job. "What do you do for a living?" "I count people...")

But actually counting people, or rather, the important idea that ALL PEOPLE COUNT, is the main thing I want to write about this morning.

Not too long ago, I was visiting the Walmart in Paso Robles where I live. Visiting may not be the right word since it was a Saturday afternoon, in the middle of the summer, and the string of people in front of me in the garden department looked more like a ticket line for a Coldplay concert. I stood in the line, frustratedly gazing, and cursing under my breath, at all of the people in front of me, and, I will admit, reminiscing about the lines that are inscribed on the tablet of the Statue of Liberty, "Give me your lame, your tired, your broken your poor...". ("Yes," said to myself, but why do the lame and the tired and the broken and the poor all have to be in front of me in the line at the garden department of Walmart on a sultry Saturday afternoon.) God will strike me down for that comment. "Forgive me Lord, I know not what I am saying."

But then, like a hand stretching down from the heavens and hitting me on the forehead (eg: "I could have had a V8"), this one sentence resounded and then echoed a hundred times in my brain. THESE PEOPLE ALL MATTER! I am not sure, but I think the words were God's own words, placed in my careless, feckless, thoughtless, and agitated mind.

The reason I think they were God's words is because Jesus said many similar things when he was with us on earth; "Jesus said, let the little ones [also translated as, 'these ordinary people'] come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these" (Matt. 19:14)

The concept that all people matter, all 7 billion of us, is at the very center of the Gospel of what it means to be a Christ follower. All people matter. Not just the people in our immediate circle, not just the ones who live in our neighborhood, not just the crew who show up for church every Sunday, not just the ones living on the North American continent, or Europe, or Africa. All people, means all people. They matter, as a whole and they matter individually. Each one person - 1 out of 6,999,999,999 - matters.

But it's more than that. More than simply "mattering", all people are "loved" by God, their creator, who made them, and us, in His image. God put a tiny part of Himself into every living soul that has ever been created. God lived for, died for, and lives for all 7 billion of us.

The poet and philosopher GK Chesterton wrote extensively about faith. However, the concept that all people matter was one of the hardest things for him to wrap his towering mind around. Chesterton took this radically difficult idea to another level when he wrote the enclosed poem about the size of the earth (the pebbles in the brook), the size of humanity (the hairs on our heads...think about that, God knows the number of hairs of all 7 billion people who are currently living on the face of the earth.). Here is the poem...

“I cannot count the pebbles in the brook.
Well hath He spoken: "Swear not by thy head.
Thou knowest not the hairs," though He, we read,
writes that wild number in His own strange book.

I cannot count the sands or search the seas,
death cometh, and I leave so much untrod.
Grant my immortal aureole, O my God,
and I will name the leaves upon the trees,

In heaven I shall stand on gold and glass,
still brooding earth's arithmetic to spell;
or see the fading of the fires of hell
ere I have thanked my God for all the grass.”
G.K. Chesterton

In case you aren't feeling challenged enough in your faith this morning, by simply trying to live out the Law of God through the Mercy of Christ, try to wrap your mind around this one...

All 7 billion of us matter to God, and they should all matter to you and I as well...

All for Now,

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