Ever felt like the odd man or woman out? You know, the person who no one notices or sees? The one who’s alone in a crowd? Maybe even the one who’s shunned or even jeered?
That was me during my growing-up years. I was the kid who was shunned by the “cool” crowd. I was the kid who nobody wanted on their baseball team. I was the boy who not only couldn’t get the girl—but was picked on by the girls!
In other words: I didn’t matter.
That’s exactly why Paul was so special. He was handsome, smart, and popular—a “most-likely-to-succeed” type. And yet he noticed me. He befriended me. He listened to me. He treated me with respect. He refused to count me as a “reject” like many of my other high school peers.
To him, I was definitely someone who did matter.
All Around Us are Lives that Matter
All around us are people whose lives “matter” yet are never noticed. They file in and out (or drift from church to church) every week without anyone acknowledging them. They carry hurts; they carry sorrows; they carry fears. They also carry God’s heart, God’s calling, and God’s anointing. And yet they may never be released from their darkness and into their calling. Why? Because we’re too busy with our own agendas, our own circle of friends, and our own world to notice them.
I know this firsthand. I’ve experienced it—not only as an insecure teen but also as a grown, Spirit-filled adult. When I’m in an unfamiliar church setting, I almost always leave the same way: alone. Oh sure, there’s the scheduled time during the service for visitors to “stay seated and be greeted.” But almost never does anyone spontaneously go out of their way to make me feel at home.
Thanks be to God, I’m no longer crushed when others don’t notice me. Why? Because I know who I am! Sure, I have the maturity that comes with being 60 years of age. But more than that, I owe my stability to the One to Whom I gave my life over 4 decades ago. Truly I am one who can testify with the Psalmist long ago:
He set my feet on a solid rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)
You see, that insecure teen from 40 or 50 years ago did not know the Jesus Who I now know. And how was He introduced to me? Not in a vacuum. Not in a dream (though I affirm such testimonies). Not through watching Christian television.
It was through Paul. It was through other Jesus-followers like him whose paths I crossed as a young college student. To these dear saints, Jesus wasn’t a religion. He was their life. And because He mattered to them, I mattered to them. Because of them, I am where I am today.
Let People Know They Matter
Next time you go to church, find the person who wouldn’t normally “matter” to you. Seek him or her out. Go out of your way to greet them—not at the “scheduled time in the service,” but spontaneously. Ask their name. Ask a non-threatening question or two. Heck just smile at them! Shake their hand.
Let them know they matter.
And hey, why stop with church? Let your neighbor know he or she matters. Let your co-worker who may not look or think like you know they matter.
Because when you come right down to it, every life matters.
Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:1-2