What Changes the World?

Last night, my wife Megan and I were watching the tail end of the Mister Rogers documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? We had watched it in pieces this week because by the time the kids get to bed and Megan lays down on the couch she isn’t far behind.

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This night was no different. Megan was asleep by the poignant end of the film. I’ll fill her and the rest of us all in on my favorite quote and its pertinent message, especially for those believing for change in St. Louis. But first, let’s look more at the author of the quote and see where those words come from and why they can be trusted.

Fred Rogers spent his whole life dedicated to making people feel special and loved in the way God designed. His catchphrase, “You are special just the way you are” let every child in the distance of his voice know the extreme value of their identity. Today, people will yell and scream that Rogers was raising a generation of children to feel entitled and important without having done anything.

Rogers wasn’t preaching entitlement. Rogers was preaching the love and Gospel of Christ – which says that Christ came and died for your sins knowing you had done nothing to deserve it. God loves all of us without condition or requiring us to love Him back. Finding out I was special to God set me free to chase the plans and purpose He had for my live with extreme intention and passion.  I wasn’t entitled to those plans. His love allowed me to change to become the better version of myself.

Fred knew the importance of that message. He knew that to change the future of a child’s life in a positive way people needed to feel that same love. 

In addition to changing and raising the perceived value of many children, Mr. Rogers also changed the course of public television when he sat in front of the Senate who was about to cut funding to public television (a move that would have erased the newly created Mister Rogers Neighborhood & Sesame Street completely from our lives and culture).

Fred shared the importance of teaching children they are special and closed by singing them one of his songs. A move I would have to think is rare on the floor of any Senate hearing. His song moved the Senate not only to tears but also to release the $20 million funds that has, in part, allowed PBS to exist still to this day.

Juxtaposed against shots of the houses inside Rogers world of make believe and real houses of Pittsburgh – which is the birthplace of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, was the quote my wife missed while she was sleeping. It may also be the quote so many of us miss in our efforts to change the lives of others as well as our cities.

“What changes the world? The only thing that ever really changes the world is when somebody gets the idea that love can abound and can be shared.” – Fred Rogers

Part of our ministry here at Testimony House is a program called Let’s Change St. Louis. A show designed to bring attention to what God is and will do in our city post Ferguson.  We believe a move of God will take place that will make the eyes of the world turn back to our city to see a drastic change from how they remember us last time they saw us.  We believe the catalyst for that change will be Christ, but to take Rogers quote above a little further, I would say it will be the abounding love of Christ displayed in all of us through the sharing of our gifts and talents with the world.

You are special to God. You have been created to be valuable to others. However, He won’t make you believe it nor will He make you do anything to prove it.  You learn how to find all of what God has given you through a relationship with Christ as your Lord and Savior. 

The love of Jesus does abound for you. You will need to learn how to harness that love and display it yourself if you are interested in changing your life, the lives of those around you or the reputation of a city.

The idea that love can abound cannot stand on its own to change the world, but rather the action of sharing that love. God shared His love for all of us through Christ. How will you share yours?

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