People in the credits

I watched a movie today. As soon as the credits began to roll, my daughter wanted to get up and leave. The movie was over, the credit extras had rolled. Why stick around and watch the boring names scroll by?

The stars get the headlines, but there would be no production without the hundreds of names in the credits. We often undervalue the contribution of people who work behind the scenes. Once I was fortunate enough to sit through a screening of a film with the men and women who had made the movie possible with graphics, editing, lighting, music, even grips and assistants. They sat through the credits. All of them. And applauded. No headliners were in the room, but those who worked behind the scenes congratulated each other on the fruits of their hard work.

Most of us don’t get to headline. We work behind the scenes at banks, behind counters, at stores, sweeping up after the headliners, and we think we don’t matter. The truth is that without each person doing his or her part, we would get nowhere in society. I heard once that the greatest contributors to our health and well-being are the trash collectors.

Next time we watch them go by, we should applaud. We should put them in parades. We should celebrate the great work they do to make our cities livable, instead of disease ridden dumps. And we should celebrate each other. Don’t let an opportunity pass you by to encourage those behind the scenes workers. Thank your bank teller and look her in the eye. Thank your drive-thru server and treat him like a person. If we could do this, imagine how much nicer it would be to live in our world.

Don’t get up and leave during the credits, watch the names roll by and say a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the people, who often go unnamed, who make your life possible.

A ReFreshing thought.

We Are Not Enemies

If the news is to be believed, there are enemies everywhere. Depending on your news source those enemies vary greatly from politicians to public figures; from those whose values do not align with our own to those responsible for keeping the peace. With recent violence attacks, we face a stark reminder of what happens when we define our enemies based on race, culture, or creed.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

Classifying enemies is so easy. Those people with whom I do not identify whose actions I interpret as threatening my position, my possessions, my person. That is how we determine the enemy. That is how we know which side to line up with, whose team we are on. We all like teams. We like to know where we stand. We find security in group identity. But Jesus calls us to something more.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48

Jesus calls us to stand on the side of all humankind. Jesus forbids us to define ourselves as greater than others. Jesus cannot condone our decision to make other people our enemy.

Because we are all in the same boat.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24

No one gets to feel superior. No one is righteous. Not one.

No one has perfect relationships. No one has avoided hurting others. No one lives a sinless life. No one has come to God on the basis of their own merit.

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:26-27

We are God’s creations. The people you see every day are children of your Father in heaven. Those you call enemy are walking images of the infinite.

God loves them. If you are to remain faithful to the image of God in you, you must love them as well. You must seek their good. You must fight for their justice. You must be their advocate.

Even if they define you as their enemy.

while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son,” Romans 5:10

Jesus walked this road first. He is calling us to follow his lead on the path of love.