This past weekend, guest speaker John Maxwell kicked off Celebration of Hope with a message called “Change Your World.” While giving his message, John quoted advice his father had given him, saying, “Every day: Value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love people.” As we continue to learn how we can serve our brothers and sisters around the globe, let’s be sure to keep this advice close.
As a society, we often fall short when it comes to valuing others. We are quick to value some people, like athletes and celebrities, but what about the rest of us? The Bible says in I Thessalonians 5:11 to “encourage one another and build each other up.” And how do we accomplish that? By showing everyone they are valuable, no matter where they fall on the pay or power scale. You can show value by saying a kind word to whomever is bagging your groceries, by leaving a large tip at dinner, or by thanking a teacher or service member. By offering your time, resources, and gratitude, you show someone they have value.
It can be difficult to value some people, and it can be just as hard to believe in others. A lot of us are jaded; we’ve given second, third, and forth chances that have proven empty. We’ve given the benefit of the doubt way too many times. We’ve been lied to, taken advantage of, or maybe worse. For a lot of us, people have illustrated many reasons why we shouldn’t believe in them. However, in the Bible, Jesus shows us time and again that people like tax collectors, Pharisees, and the worst of sinners can exceed our expectations. Now, there are some cases in which we need to set appropriate boundaries with others, and that’s okay, but let’s not let that stop us from believing in others. People are capable of incredible acts of courage, love, and forgiveness.
John Maxwell also challenged us to unconditionally love others. John 15:12 tells us, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” Jesus loves us unconditionally and asks us to do the same. He died for us while we were still sinners. Let’s share that love with everyone.
We all make mistakes. We’re all going to miss the mark, let others down, and fail ourselves. However, what grace when someone continues to love us whenever we do fail! Let’s never stop loving our neighbors, near and far.
Celebration of Hope is about love, justice, and change. We can’t value some and not all. We can’t believe in a select few. We can’t only love those who love us back. Let’s accept John Maxwell’s challenge: Every day, value people, believe in people, and unconditionally love people. Valuing, believing, and loving cultivates lasting change, inspires hope, and encourages a deep faith. As the Church, let’s step up and be who the world needs us to be.