One of the most dreadful childhood experiences I remember was the practice of choosing up sides for a game on the playground or in PE class. I clearly remember standing with my classmates and facing the two appointed team captains who held the fate of the entire class. I would stand a little taller so I might be chosen early which would indicate my athletic ability and acceptance within the rank and file of my class. I remember looking at the eyes of the captains as they scanned the line up hoping they would think I was good enough to be on their team.
What was even worse for me than standing in the group of youngsters was being one of the team captains. I hated being made to choose a team of my own. I cringed at the idea of picking someone first, then second and leaving someone until last. Who was I to say someone was good or bad? I hated looking into the pleading eyes of the kids waiting to be picked. Something just seemed so wrong to me about ranking my friends.
Every day we are all on the playground choosing up sides. Everyone is a team captain and we're all calling out our choice by way of social media and in our day to day interactions. Instead of "John!", "Jessica!" or, "Bill!" we are cry out, "Trump!", "Hillary!", "The Police!", "Black Lives!", "Women!", "Gays!", "Poor!", "Rich!".....it goes on and on. All day long we are put in the team captain's seat and we are made to choose. Within healthcare we are called to choose between traditional vs. natural medicine. In the world of technology we are made to chose between Windows or Mac. Even within our houses of worship, we are faced with choosing which type of service or preaching is best. It feels like we are constantly being divided into teams.
As I thought about this post and where it would take me I realized something that didn't quite sit well with me at first. It doesn't matter what I think. You might say, "It absolutely does, because you have to vote, you have to take sides! Who you choose guides how you treat others! You must pick!" Sure, I only get one vote and my forefathers rightly believed that our votes matter and voices should be heard. But for eternal purposes, the only one whose opinion matters is Jesus Christ. And if we are followers of Jesus Christ, our attitudes and way of life should reflect Him. Christ's ministry and eventual death on the cross made a bold statement. He turned the world upside down by leveling the playing field of humanity. He made it clear that every life mattered to him whether it be the mentally ill or sane, the beggar or the rich man, the fellow countrymen or the stranger, the strong or the diseased, the man or the woman, the elderly or the child. No race, no political office, no religious faction became more important than another. Ultimately, every single human being that lived and that would be born was of value to Him. So much so that He chose to sacrifice His life in the most gruesome way to buy everyone back from death and destruction. His act of love said, "You matter. Your mess matters. There will be a day of redemption for you, no matter how poorly you've been treated. My love and my death gives you life. Take it and share it with others." Most everyone can recite John 3:16 and some even roll their eyes when someone claims it as a favorite verse. It's just too simple. But that's what makes it beautiful. Simplicity.
For God so loved the world, hat he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
In some translations, "whoever" is written as "whosoever". Did you know there is even a "whosoever" movement in our country? The idea is to show people that each person who lives and breathes is included. There are no categories, no sides, no one is picked first or fifth or last. We are all chosen. I am a whosoever and so are you. The criminal and the judge who sentences him are whosoevers. The gay neighbor and confused teenager are whosevers. The Muslim store clerk and Jewish shop owner. The political candidates, the world leader and the political prisoner. If everyone mattered to Jesus this much, how can they not matter to us?
I realize many think the world is not that simple, we must choose. For today, I am challenging myself to think about the only choice that really matters. Choosing to reflect my father's face. No matter what causes my emotions to rise, choose to exhibit care and compassion for the whosoevers. My Savior cared in the most painful way, He even prayed for and asked for the forgiveness of those who crucified Him. It costs me nothing to do the same.