I mean if Fred Rogers was still alive today and had a Facebook page, everyone would want to be his friend… wouldn’t you? If he twittered or tweeted or blogged, wouldn’t you want to follow him? If you got an invitation to be LinkedIn to Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood and be socially connected through the Internet – as so many are – wouldn’t you jump at the chance? He would never diss you, or write an email in all capital letters and exclamation points, he would always find a way to encourage you and teach you a lesson, while making you feel appreciated and safe.
Sounds great, but there was one problem with Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood. Our world doesn’t look that way. If you remember the opening sequence to the television show and the miniature model city of Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, the one thing that was missing was people. There were no people there, which is why there was no conflict because people are filled with conflict. People are filled with things like resentment and anger and bursts of violence and unforgiveness.
And this conflict that’s in the real world – let’s call it what it really is, sin – makes it difficult to communicate. This is true wherever we look. It’s true for husbands and wives, parents and children. It’s true between friends and between colleagues. It’s true between leaders. It’s true between politicians. It’s true between communities. Even nations stand against each other in conflict. Question for you…how many of you have ever been mad at anyone? Raise your hand…The rest of you are lying…
Encouragements from Romans 12: “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves…Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited…Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice (literally, pursue) hospitality…Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn…Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was fantasy. In the trenches of real life, things are much more difficult. Probably a lot more like Eddie Murphy’s skit on the old Saturday Night Live, entitled Mr. Robinson’s neighborhood, a ghetto parody of the PBS show. But it is worth the effort to communicate love. God’s love to us which flows through us to others in actions and in our words. Put in the effort – every day, every moment, with God’s help – and our households/relationships will become less desperate and more Christ-like.
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand