The cashier that messed up your breakfast order this morning - and got nasty with you when you wanted to get it corrected. The person that cut you off in traffic and then showed you their latest manicure, or lack thereof. The co-worker that seems to always try and make you look incompetent. The greeter at church who never really greets but acts as though everyone is just an inconvenience to them.
Of course we respond in a lovable manner when these things occur. We politely smile at the cashier and genuinely wish them to have a great day. We wave back at the person who cut us off and speak blessings on them. We speak to that co-worker every morning wishing them and their family well. We stop and pray with the greeter asking for God's grace to abound in their lives ...
In my quest for my life to exemplify Jesus more - I am seeing certain scriptures with fresh eyes. For instance we know we are supposed to show love to others but have you ever really considered what that entails?
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)
If we aren't showing each other love then other people don't know we belong to Jesus. More specifically, the cashier, co-worker, person in traffic, and greeter will never know the transforming love of Jesus. Why? Because we didn't show them. Imagine for a moment with me, a world where everyone who professes Christ showed His true unadulterated love all of the time. Because of how you showed love to others, people knew without a shadow of a doubt that you were a disciple of Jesus ...
There have been times in my life I have encountered people and I knew they were Christians because of how they spoke and acted. It wasn't "religious". It was genuine. They weren't constantly referring to scripture or talking about God. They just had joy, peace ... love emanating from them.
Do people say that about us? Do strangers ask why we are so different from most people? Do they marvel at how we are able to show others love regardless of the circumstance? Do they think to themselves, "S/He must follow Jesus?"
Do I make people wonder why I am still being genuinely kind and loving toward them in spite of the abuse, insult, or offense they have directed toward me?
Yet, isn't that what Jesus did for us? He loved us when we were the utmost unlovable person around (grammatically incorrect but it makes the most sense). Romans 5:8 (ESV) puts it like this: "but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." While we were "doing our dirt", while we were the one committing the most offenses toward other people, while we were behaving in such a manner that screamed, "I don't want to be loved or even liked", Jesus - knowing what we are really like - decided to love us when we were the utmost unlovable people and took our offenses and our unlovable state and died in our place.
There are some people I may consider dying for, like my child ... But someone who clearly shows the world their manicure on a daily basis?
Not so much.
But before we accepted Jesus that's exactly what we were doing, except we weren't giving the world "the finger" (for those of you who haven't caught my manicure reference) we were giving it to God. Scary thought isn't it? BUT even though we did that, and still occasionally "slip" and flash it, Jesus still loves us. I've often heard it said that only love kept Jesus on the cross ...
How often does love keep us?
Keep us from exchanging insult for insult?
Keep us from bitterness and seeking revenge?
Keep us from holding a grudge?
Keep us from sharing gossip and untruths?
Keep us from showing our own manicures?
God's word says our love to others is our Christian I.D. card. I'm aiming to put it on a lanyard for everyone to see.
"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another ... ;if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us." (1 John 4:11-12 ESV)
Just Around the Corner,