People different, people same

In ministry we must take aim at the heart of human experience, the matters of the soul. When one looks out at a congregation one could choose to focus on the differences that are so apparent. There is Mr. Johnson who just turned 80; Mrs. Wilson whose latest pregnancy prompted a fast-growing, life threatening skin cancer; Joseph, the exchange student from Paraguay; Mary Ann, the high-school freshman; Scott, the computer-technician by day, church-drama director by weekend; and so the list goes. You’re looking out at a small splash of the sea of humanity but nonetheless a group that shows the incredible diversity of human soul and body. So, what do we aim at? Do we try to understand all the nuances of every person’s distinct experience of life?

If we are really honest about it, we will admit that there really is no way we can comprehend the special and variant life experiences of all those people. Though sociologists have to do it, it’s questionable whether Christian leaders should look at people under the rubric of the social categories into which they fit. That twenty-five-year-old sitting out there may have a strong sense of the social box he lives in (because so many people have been reminding him of it), but when it comes to what his fundamental fears are, his hopes, his sin, his spiritual needs-he isn’t all that different than anyone else. The basic state of the human soul is a remarkably constant phenomenon for all places, and all times. If human beings were all watches, the list of parts inside would be the same-whether it be Julius Caesar, Marilyn Monroe, Billy Graham, FDR, or your teenage daughter.

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