Holiday events are approaching at lightning speed. So many things to do! Gifts to buy and wrap, guests to welcome and feed, invitations needing an RSVP with not enough time to attend all.
How do we love all the people?
I can get overwhelmed by the number of people the Christmas season demands I interact with. How do I get it all done? I could crawl into a hole and skip it all, but that doesn’t look like my Savior.
I think Jesus taught us a lot about how to love many people. He interacted with the masses, yes, but He appears to have had about 50 people He counted as friends like Mary, Martha and Lazarus, and those who traveled with him regularly that are often mentioned. He had 12 disciples with whom He had a few years of constant and personal relationship. Within the 12, he had three intimate friends, Peter, James and John.
There are levels of relationships.
We cannot be close friends with a lot of people. I wonder if we place undue pressure on ourselves to have more. Instagram and Meta (Facebook) can trick us into thinking we must. In a talk Jennie Allen gave at The Grove recently HERE, secular research supports what Jesus modeled. We can accommodate 100-150 acquaintances. We can stay caught up with 50. We can get deeper into the lives of about 15. When it comes to walking through day-to-day life, we can only do so with 2-3. The total range is 168-218 people at any given time.
I was sending Christmas cards this week when it occurred to me my list spans all levels of relationship, including acquaintances. I had not updated my list in years and did so this week. Some folks have dropped off my list because connections through our children have dissipated; Others have filled their place. People in prior neighborhoods are now being replaced by current neighbors. I was stunned by the number of address changes and saddened by the number of people that have passed away. One by one, I made the changes.
These are my people.
The world’s population is nearing 8 billion. God gave each of us an average of 175 people at one time. That is a very small number comparatively. It would take minutes for me to read that many names to God in prayer. How faithful have I been to do so?
There seem to be so many.
But really, there are so few, and those few are divided into levels of relationship that make things manageable….doable. How well do I love people while they were on my Christmas card list? Do I love them well? Do I enjoy them? Do I treat them as an image bearer of God? With regard to those no longer with us, how did I do? I am not certain that I have done well with all, but this week I thanked God for each and every person currently on my list or who has ever been mailed a card.
To the ones who have passed away, I can’t greet them anymore or even pray for them except to thank God that our paths crossed. I have a renewed my commitment to live the fullest relationship life that my human body can handle long-term. Do you want to join me in that quest? Jesus showed us how.
The sacred list.
That Christmas card list of ours? Each person was purposed to be part of our life. The list is a prayer list, and a record of who God picked for each of us to know. I have my people. You have yours. All are God’s, though. This is the list of souls I moved from my active to inactive list because they have passed away. I paid attention. I thanked God for each one: Delcie Albritton, Hannah Chicka, Dick and Kay Clemmer, Janice Comstock, Betty Deal, Foster Donaldson, Jack Gilden, Jim McCollom, Bob Mitchell, Carol O’Connor, Dan O’Connor, and Ron Pershall.
Slow down the season.
We can rush the decorations, the shopping and wrapping. We can rush to events and rush home. But let’s not rush the people. Ever. And let’s not rush our hearts. Let’s stay in step with our Savior who gives each minute of our lives and relationships meaning.
All human beings on earth are just passing through. Even Jesus had relationships with people until being moved to the Christmas card inactive list after He was crucified. Lives in bodies of flesh and blood are transitory, yet each person in the world is so valuable that God sent His Son to dwell among us and then be crucified for our sins so He could stay in relationship with us forever. Does our treatment of our people reflect such value?
Love your people while you have them.
Picture Explanation: We raise our kids then let them go. They seem to become their own people, but then you go to your newly married daughter’s house and see ornaments on her tree that had once been on yours. And you see an ornament her grandfather gave her with his familiar writing (my dad). And you notice she wraps pictures on the walls like gifts the same way you did.
Connection. Generations. The slow moving story of glory.
Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
© 2021 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved.
Thank you for this beautiful post, Laurie. What a great reminder to be conscious of caring for and appreciating those people on our “lists.” It is so easy to be impersonal during this season even while making an effort to stay connected. It is easy to go through the motions. Thank you for the reminder of how much Jesus cared for his people–for all people! Merry Christmas!
Writing this blog stirred the fire in me as well to love people in my life well. The numbers are doable. This is what has struck me most.
Merry Christmas to you too, my friend.