Meridian Star

December 14, 2013

From the Shepherd’s Heart

By Dr. John A. Temple / guest columnist
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” — John 13:34, 35

Recently, I returned from a three week trip to Myanmar, which is the country between Thailand and India formerly known as Burma. This land is the place where Buddhism claims its origin: 89 percent of the population is Buddhists. Only 3 percent are Christian.

    However, there is one community in the northwest part of the country that is 98 percent Christian. While visiting that community, I was surprised by several facts about the violence and crime in the area. In a community the size of Meridian, they have a few robberies each year. They could not recall any murders taking place.     They didn’t understand what domestic abuse was.

    Traffic was an interesting display of social responsibility. No one stopped at intersections. They simply honked their horn and continued into traffic. Everyone allowed others to yield into the flow without any anger, or irritation that someone had interfered with another’s progress. With patience and congeniality, the street crowded with motorbikes seemed to not need stop signs, red lights, speed signs or police to enforce good citizenship.

    Now, I am sure there was police enforcement, and I know there are laws and rules that regulated social expectation, but, there was a sense of community that is missed here at home.

    In America, our emphasis is on “rights,” not “responsibility.” We want to go through life with no hindrance. Much conflict occurs because of self-centeredness and impatience that reflects a lack of concern for anyone but self.

    Even this week, you may have endured some spirit of inconsiderateness as you did Christmas shopping. The attitude often reflected is that people are a problem, not a blessing.

    If there is anything that Christ should bring to “Christmas” it is a sense of community. All should realize that the gift of grace offered through Jesus coming in our world is needed by everyone. We are in this world together.

    We shouldn’t see ourselves struggling with others to find something to celebrate. Instead, we should realize that God loves us and that love is realized as we love each other. The fullness of that love is not fulfilled with family only. The completion of celebrating God’s love is even when we love strangers with the same care as we do friends and family.

    While I know there is no place on earth without problems, I wish to make fewer problems in my world. Today, as I drive through my town, I pledge to be more patient and considerate. I plan to open the door for others and allow them to go first. I want to smile more and complain less.

    I think I will take my time and enjoy our town. We are blessed more than we know and we should appreciate what the Good Lord has given us.

    I may not live in a perfect place, but I know how it can be made better. I can decide to contribute something positive. You never know, maybe something good might rub off on someone else. Why don’t you join me?

    Dr. John A. Temple is pastor of Poplar Springs Drive Baptist Church, located at 4032 Poplar Springs Drive in Meridian. Visit the church website online at www.