When it comes to relating to people, I know what I’m supposed to do and say. I think most of us can agree that we know these things, right? For many of us, this awareness started with our parents teaching us to say only nice things and treat people with kindness. That lesson was reinforced at church when we heard Jesus teaching about the Golden Rule. This was something adults quoted with ferocity when they wanted me to act a certain way. Regardless of it’s origin or people’s intentions, it just makes sense to live like this….right? But do I love like Jesus only when it’s convenient, or all the time as He commanded us to?
If you’re a parent of multiple kids like I am, doesn’t it drive you crazy when your kids mistreat each other? I hope I’m not alone in this one. Sometimes my kids are so mean to each other for the stupidest reasons. I like to think that I wasn’t like this growing up, but I often hear from my siblings that I was the meanest older brother ever. I’m positive there’s some exaggeration in those comments.
Watching my kids grow up, I am overwhelmed with the idea that I haven’t placed enough of an importance on truly loving and caring for people, and not just doing the right thing. Let me clear up that statement.
One can follow the rules because it’s what you’re supposed to do. We give to charity, we give to the church, we pay our taxes, we don’t run out on the bill at the restaurant, we say please and thank you. Most of us are aware that there’s doing the right thing and we know exactly the bare minimum of what that entails. But there’s another way to live and that’s like Jesus. I imagine that Jesus is fully aware of our inaction and our half-hearted smiles. I will never believe that Jesus is cool with me quoting “Love God and love your neighbor” while I pass that neighbor by, pretending I’m not aware there was a need.
Ashamedly, I believe I’ve taught to my kids that I will make sacrifices for others when it’s convenient to my calendar and my bank account. If loving people is going to interrupt my schedule, I might have to take a raincheck. I live a life blinded to the reality of the struggles of people around me and I am passing this lifestyle onto my kids. I know how to do the right thing. I can account for a lot of hours of community service. I know where my money has gone and how many meals I’ve provided, but every bit of that came at my leisure. It showed up at the right time in the right way so I did it.
So how do we change our attitudes and perceptions of sacrificial living? When do we approach the teachings of Jesus as if they matter more than our convenience? When do we embrace the idea that loving others isn’t just the right thing, it’s the only thing?
It seems ridiculous to say this but here it comes… we can do this better. We can chose to love like Jesus did.