Well, it’s homecoming Sunday at Bethel, so Ernie Nivens is preaching. At Philadelphia we’re going to get into 1 John 5:1-4. Read it. I hear in it a lot of talk about connection. First, love for Christ is connected to new birth, which is connected to having a new family. Loving our fellow children of God is connected to obedience:
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands.”
So, our ability to love people is tied to our faith/action? But what about all those ways I can love people that seem to have nothing to do with my beliefs? There are thousands of NGOs and non-profits that offer Americans the chance to try to love their fellow man, regardless of religion, right?
What about all those ways I disobey or disregard God that only affect me? It’s a personal decision, isn’t it, between me and God?
Maybe, maybe, 1 John 5 says otherwise. Maybe there are connections in our midst that are real and influential.
There’s a group of folks who work in this field of interpersonal connection, it’s called “small world theory,” and it gets into complicated math or other ways to track how humans interact all over the globe. One way for the math to boil down into easier terms is to just look at somebody’s KB#. Or, their “Kevin Bacon Number”. That’s right.
Somebody’s Kevin Bacon Number is the number of people it takes to link them back to Kevin Bacon (usually just for actors through movies that they co-starred in with Mr. Bacon). It comes from this idea that there are no more than “six degrees of separation” between Kevin Bacon and every other actor alive or dead. For instance, let’s try actor Val Kilmer. Val was in Top Gun with Tom Cruise, and Tom Cruise was in A Few Good Men with Kevin Bacon. That gives Val Kilmer a Kevin Bacon number of 2.
KB#’s are an image of our connectedness, and the idea carries over to all of us, that roughly no more than six people separate us all. Picture every human on earth and start drawing lines that connect us, and it’s a huge spiderweb that is very connected.
That being said, keeping that spiderweb picture in our minds, imagine how good and evil flows along those connections from me to you, and you to me, and everywhere. Love and hate, mercy and judgment, giving and greed, justice and oppression, etc. etc. Imagine how our words and deeds travel all over the earth. It’s kinda like the idea in the movie Pay it Forward.
That’s where 1 John makes more sense to me, seeing that so much of us is so connected to so much of everybody else, it matters how we define our love for other people, it matters what guides our words/thoughts/deeds when it comes to loving people, it matters what we believe and how that shapes how we connect to others. Because maybe only six people separate us from the entire globe.