I watched what I thought was a documentary about an award-winning songwriter recently. The entirety of the hour was a narration written in response to a letter received from another songwriter struggling to find purpose and meaning in his life and profession.
Delivered in a voice that said, “I understand” or “I’ve been where you are,” he was clearly offering hope to the unnamed recipient. He said, “They say you write about what you know. I’m telling you my story not because it’s the best one, but because it’s the one I know the best.”
In a world built on proud factions, it’s odd that in difficult times we hear the word ‘unity’ tossed around. I’m reminded of a phrase I’ve spoken many times. Over time I went from saying it, to eventually believing it, and finally to trying to live it: There is more that unites us than there is that divides us.
In His final earthly charge to those who knew Him best in this world, Jesus says this in Matthew 28:19-20:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
In our search for identity, our wondering about purpose, our struggle with the meaning of this brief life — the Son of God Himself sums it up for the church as He answers the questions asked so many times and in so many ways: Why am I here? What’s the point of the church? Do I even matter? And … how am I supposed to do this on my own?
In answering the questions His followers didn’t know enough to ask, Jesus didn’t say to feed the hungry like He did. He didn’t say heal the sick or love your neighbors like He did.
In His parting instructions to those who knew Him best, Jesus summed it all up and said we are to observe everything He commanded us to do.
While that certainly includes feeding the hungry, healing and loving, it doesn’t stop there. And it’s not where it starts, either.
It starts with making disciples. It starts with caring enough about people right around us, those in our extended circles, and even those we haven’t — and might never — meet. Caring enough to help them find what’s best for them in this world and beyond.
I’m grateful that my story— the one I know best — contains a sidebar when someone took me aside and explained all this to me.
We could all use someone like the small-town pastor who cared enough to help me understand what Jesus taught and what that means for us now. And if what we believe is true, we’re called to be like that pastor.
Because we Christians are unified by a singular mission: helping others learn to love God and love others like Jesus did.