Do you remember the tune? It’s the catchy jingle from one of TV’s top shows of yester-year:
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
And they’re always glad you came;
You want to be where you can see,
Our troubles are all the same;
You want to be where everybody knows your name. …
Sound familiar now? Of course. It’s the theme song to Cheers, one of NBC’s longest running and most successful sitcoms. Mind if I ask you something? When was the last time you exhibited the sort of sensitivity or acceptance evident at Boston’s favorite bar? When’s the last time you noticed:
• The hollow, vacant eyes beneath the plastic smile.
• The mother who politely declines Sunday’s “let’s all go out for lunch after the service” invitation, citing a “prior engagement” that’s more fictional than her empty wallet is factual.
• Circle-the-wagon “huddle-ups” where everybody has a huddle. Except one.
• The student who slumps off to one side of the playground, head down, eyes averted. He’s the one standing alone after the team “choose up sides.”
• Elderly neighbors whose shuffling feet, failing hearing or fading eyesight are mistaken for ineptitude.
• The vociferous co-worker whose loquacious ways mask loneliness as deep as the Marianas Trench.
• The “got-it-all-together” pastor’s wife whose wayward child has chosen a bottle as his best friend – and she thinks she has to bear the burden alone.
• The shy, reticent mom who’s exiled to social Siberia while the “power members” of the group cluster in one corner and coordinate calendars and plans without her.
• The nervous, skittish neighbor whose interpersonal fences rival the Great Wall of China. Each board is carefully crafted to hide her husband’s closet porn addiction.
• The high schooler sporting glasses, a “tin grin,” acne or Wal-Mart labels instead of brand names – and the frostbitten scars of rejection.
• The “angry mom” whom everyone snubs, never guessing that her external explosions mask searing internal pain.
These are the isolated, the lonely, the rejected and the forgotten. Who knows their names? Where can they can go and see “our troubles are all the same?” Who is “always glad they came?”
Look around. Ours is a tear-stained world. Unfortunately, we Christians sometimes exude the warmth of a polar bear convention inside an igloo stuck in an iceberg. The sad fact is that needy, hurting folks are often more welcome at the local bar than at the local church.
So let’s think for a minute. How many of these “nameless” folks has God placed in your path today? How many of them are in your Bible study? Do you think they’re there by accident? Sure, it’d be a lot easier to let someone else “know their name.” To turn away and pretend you don’t see. But God, who made these people, can’t. And those of us who claim to be His followers shouldn’t, either. So here’s an idea: how ‘bout another “tune”? The lyrics of the Lord Jesus Christ go like this:
… “Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
-- Matthew 22:37b-39 (NIV)
This is known as the “royal law,” because it’s the supreme law, the source of all other laws governing human relationships. The idea is total devotion, first to God and then to others.
Here’s the second verse:
A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.
-- John 13:34, 25 (NIV)
You see, self-sacrificing, unconditional love over the long haul is the mark of our special bond in Christ. It’s created by the Lord Jesus’ love for us. And it’s meant to be shared. (Incidentally, loving fellow believers—and by extension, the world--with this kind of love is an imperative, not a suggestion.)
When we share Christ’s love with others, ask yourself this: what would our world look like if we loved each other with total devotion? Better yet, what if the place “where everybody knows your name” and “they’re always glad you came” wasn’t Cheers but rather, the Church?