In a real sense, all life is interrelated. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.
— Martin LutherKing, Jr.

I ran across this quote the other day when my daughter and I were looking up information about Martin Luther King, and it really struck a cord with me. I was introduced to the concept of Ubuntu – the idea of “I Am Because We Are” – early in 2006 by some good friends at the Kaleidoscope program. I witnessed this on our trip to New Orleans, and my recent trip to China has reinforced the seeds of a greater understanding of the world and the message Jesus had for us. Not that my understanding is greater than anyone else’s, but it is greater than what I previously held.

Maybe it is because we live in a technology age, but we have this misconception that we can act and live independently of anyone else. Sure, there are times that I have to interact, but even then, I should be able to do my own thing without your judgement or opinion. This is the culture in which we live. The problem is that this is not true. The things that I do, or don’t do, have an impact on everyone, for good or for bad.

Allow me one example. I used to have strong feelings about things that were “Made in China.” I remember Wal-Mart’s big “Made in the U.S.A.” kick, and I thought that was a good thing. We should support our country and quit sending our jobs to a Communist country. Only recently as I have read more and more about China have I come to realize that the poverty in China would be so much worse if they didn’t have the ability to export goods to other parts of the world. We have too much wealth (another blog entry for later), so at the very least our abundance should spill over to help the Chinese people in some way. If we don’t buy things made in China, then the Chinese worker will be unemployed and descend into further poverty. On the other hand, as the economic situation in China improves and the people have access to more education, they are increasingly asking questions and seeking to have influence in their government.

So my point is this. Jesus didn’t come here to make my personal bubble better. He came so that as I become more like Him, I will do more to make the world a better place by interacting with it. Church can’t be about my individual worship. It has to be about community. Relationships were the key to Jesus’ ministry, but I feel like we have pushed these to the side. We have spent too much time focusing on programs or numbers rather than on making the lives of the people around us better. We want to change the world, but we forget that Jesus has already given us the key – treat the people around you with dignity and respect. Love others as you love yourself. Treat others the way you want to be treated. With humility consider others better than yourself. These actions will have a ripple effect on the entire world, and God’s name will be known because of it.