The Root of Everything | 143
BY JOHN KELLER
Won’t You Be My Neighbor
When the documentary about Fred Rogers’ life Won’t You Be My Neighbor was released, having been a big fan since my childhood, I couldn’t wait to see it. There was a profound moment when Rogers stated: “love is at the root of everything, all learning, all relationships, love or the lack of it. The greatest thing we can do is to help someone know they are loved, and capable of loving.”
Today, we live in a world of cynicism. The Rogers documentary reminded me of the amazing impact one person can make by simply obeying the greatest commandment. Obviously, his mission statement came right from the New Testament. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these, Mark 12:31. It is no surprise to discover in the documentary, Mr. Rogers was also an ordained minister. The documentary showed that wherever Mr. Roger’s traveled, people would stop him on the street and hug him, thanking him for being a kind voice in their troubled childhoods. That is the takeaway, consider the standard, imagine if each time you run into someone that knows you, they stop to hug you just because you were a kind voice in their troubled life.
Imagine if every person who claimed Jesus as their Savior had that type of testimony. No one cares what we have to say until they know we care. Cynics will begin to attempt to find fault with something Rogers didn’t do or say, however, at the core, no one can argue, as a child when you saw Mr. Rogers on television, that kindhearted, soft-spoken soul made you feel special and loved. Watching the documentary, I felt conviction as I realized Mr. Rogers was an example to all of us as to how an ambassador of the love of God should act towards his or her neighbor. I ask myself, does the way I treat everyone I encounter demonstrate I am an ambassador of the love of God? The most famous verse of all time is John 3:16, paraphrasing it gives us God’s example for us ambassadors, God so loved the world he intervened. When the gospel writers testify that Jesus had compassion, it means he was moved to intervene. The truth is, the laborers to demonstrate the love of God to the lost, are every single one of us. When we love our neighbor, when they believe it, they will have ears to hear, and hearts to receive the hope of the gospel we must share with them only if we truly value their souls. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matt. 9:36-38)
The Opposite of Love is Not Hate
The opposite of love is not to hate, it is apathy. Instead of being an ambassador of the love of God we sometimes find ourselves opposed in apathy or cynicism to the greatest commandment. So, those of us who need this reminder, let us change our attitudes and actions in obedience to the one who loved us first, while we were yet sinners. I am often challenged by how unloving I can be at times. A quick exercise to correct my thinking is to exchange the word love for my own name revealing how far I may be missing the mark. As Mr. Rogers would say in a kind voice, “let’s give it a try, shall we?” Now it is your turn, to keep it simple, I bolded the word you should exchange for your own name. For example, “Fred is patient and kind; Fred does not envy or boast…” Get the point? Now try using your own name.
Love (your name) is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
How did you measure up? We all know the story of the good Samaritan. How many ignored the man who had been robbed and beaten and left for dead. Ask yourself, am I a good neighbor? Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied The one who had mercy on him. Jesus told him, Go and do likewise. (Luke 10:36-37)
You and I have the Holy Spirit, we are capable of loving each other, being merciful, showing kindness, being patient, and above all, being ambassadors of the love of God to all our neighbors. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:14) One more thing about Fred Rogers… Fred Rogers considered the number “143” to be a very special number. He once said, “It takes one letter to say I and four letters to say love and three letters to say you. One hundred and forty-three.” In fact, he liked the number so much that he maintained the weight of 143 pounds for the last 30 years of his life. I LOVE YOU.
John Keller graduated from the Quest Program at Trinity College of Florida in 2013 with a degree in Counseling. He then went to Liberty University for his MA Theology. He currently serves as the Brand Ambassador of Trinity College of Florida.