People Matter More than Things
The nature of human frailty and our response to everyday annoyances
When my son was smaller, I tried to help him understand, when by accident he dropped a cup or broke something (for accidents happen), that people matter more than things.
It was a saying we used when something went wrong in which something was broken. We still use it because things still get broken. It was the glue we used to stick together the broken bits of his heart and show him he was more important than those material things. As the years have gone by, those words have grown into a way of looking at the world and of measuring what is important.
The human race is as fragile as a china tea set. We all live in the shadow of delicate relationships. A wrong word or a scowl and we react - our defences high, our image protected. There is no use pretending it is otherwise. We are, after all, human.
To be human is to be broken. We come out of the package with a notice which says: 'In need of repair'. Another stamp says: 'Handle with care'. We are damaged. It is more obvious in some than in others, but sooner or later it becomes obvious in all of us.
This afternoon, I went up to the attic where we have our seminar room and library. The glass door was broken. It will cost a lot of money and even more time to repair. It would be easy to ask who broke it. It might be normal to seek revenge, to become angry or frustrated. But normal is not enough. We long for, even desire, a much better solution. A glass door with a crack is both ugly and dangerous. It is not enough to repair it. It has to be replaced. It may be true enough to say that one can see a certain kind of beauty in the reflections of the cracks. But the door is still broken.
Broken people are the business of the good news of the kingdom of heaven. All the projects we work on finally come down to people reading, thinking, seeking, finding, praying, hoping and worshipping. God asks us to enter into a living relationship with him as individuals and as a community. 'People growing into maturity' is the purpose of our work.
Next time a cup breaks, a temper explodes or emotions are raw, when defence and self-justification thicken the air and you feel the failure that you are, remember the Redemption. Out of the ashes of pain and accusation, of rumour and suggestion, speculation and gossip, God is at work to raise up a humbled and repentant people fit for the joy of the kingdom to come.
By the way, I heard that Humpty Dumpty recently went for a medical examination. The doctor looked at him with a serious eye. 'Mr. Dumpty,' he said, 'I think, in time, the cracks will heal, but I am a little concerned about your cholesterol level.
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