True Christianity isn’t complicated. It’s simply acting like Jesus would act and learning to love like Jesus.
Acting like Jesus does include and exclude certain things. But the one area I want to focus on is loving like Jesus would love.
In life people disappoint you. People will fail you. People will hurt you. And yet through all of that my response is so important. A Christian response is necessary because I am a Christian. And it’s often through responses that we show others the most about Jesus’ love.
1. No negativity.
Did you know that Jesus wasn’t ever negatively rude to the people He came into contact with? He excluded sarcasm, belittling, condescension, and looking “down” on others from the way He acted toward people.
It seems like those traits are a good bit of the way people act towards each other. Especially to those people who are difficult, rude or hard to get along with.
Loving people is easy when they’re loving in return. But what if they’re hostile and rude to you? What if they’re that way toward you first? What if those people are your family?
To respond in anger, or sarcastically or with condescending or belittling words can seem appropriate. I’m just “protecting” myself or “standing up for” myself. But when I look at Jesus’ life, He never responded that way. And He had plenty of negativity directed towards Him.
When people wrong me, it hurts. And no matter if they ask for forgiveness or not, I’m supposed to forgive them.
And in that little word, ‘forgive’, is packed so much action and attitude that I should exemplify.
It’s easier to forgive when the offender has apologized. But what about those people that wrong you and DON’T apologize? What about those people that CONTINUALLY wrong you and don’t see the error or their ways? What if you must deal with those people on a regular basis? What if they’re your family?
Then you have a hard job to execute! I think that forgiving someone who hasn’t asked for it, doesn’t see their error or even refuses to acknowledge their error is one of the hardest things to do as friend or family member. And yet, if I am to show Jesus’ love, I have to get over it, forgive and move on.
And in forgiving someone my attitude must be right as well as my outward actions toward that person. THAT. IS. HARD. Thankfully, I have Jesus help in doing this! If He wants me to live in this forgiving way, then He will help me!
3. With action!
When was the last time you showed someone that you loved them? Your best friend, your mom, your brother who lives so far away, friends that you really would like to get to know better – all of these, are people who would benefit from seeing your love.
Loving with action behind your words doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or complicated. It could mean writing a friend an encouraging note. It could mean Skying with a long-distance family member on a regular basis. It could mean inviting someone over for brunch and fellowship!
So why don’t we show our love? We get busy, it doesn’t come to mind, and maybe we are not sparked with the idea in the first place. Well, consider yourself sparked!
4. With initiative.
Sometimes your words will be the only thing that affects someone. But you may not know this. That’s why it’s so important to follow that “nudge” you get to say something or do something for someone.
God lays things on our hearts to say and do. But sometimes those things we are prompted to say seem out of place, awkward, difficult, or scary. Sometimes you’re prompted to do things that seem time consuming, out of character for you or even difficult.
You never know the impact of your words and actions. You may be the only person available or willing to affect someone else for good.
But what if you pass up your opportunity? What if you choose not to say or do something? You’ve missed out on an opportunity to show Jesus’ love.
5. Without preference.
There are people that I prefer over others. They’re called best friends. It’s easy to show them love!
But what about those people that I don’t prefer? What about those hostile or contrary family members who I’m forced to interact with? Do I just ignore them? Do I avoid them?
Of course each situation requires individual and specific responses. But the theme of my attitude toward them should be love.
If Jesus loved even those people who were terrible to Him, then I too must show love to those people that aren’t my favorite. I still must show love to obnoxious people in Walmart and rude family members.What does that practically look like?
- Initiate a conversation. That, in itself, could be a challenge. But taking it a step further would be to ask them questions and try to get to know them better.
- Don’t take the opportunity to be rude towards them. You know those biting comments people make to get you riled? Don’t take the bait. Just smile, change the subject or walk away.
- Be kind to them. Send them an encouraging or kind text message. Remember their birthday. Smile at them.
- Include them. Include that family member in your group holiday text message. Include that friend in your after-church outing. Wherever you are sparked to include them, do it. It may be a bit more uncomfortable, more work and less pleasant for you. But showing Jesus’ love is what Christianity is all about.
6. From afar.
Some people are unable to appreciate the love I try to show; so all I can do is exemplify Jesus.
There are those in life who are just contrary, stubborn, and mean. You could stand on your head all day trying to resolve an issue and it wouldn’t work. Because they’re not willing. Maybe they don’t care. Maybe they don’t see their error. Maybe they refuse to admit something. But ultimately it’s on them. You’ve tried. You’ve prayed. But nothing is working.
At that point you step back and just love like Jesus would love. Jesus doesn’t force us to comply. He doesn’t make us obey. He doesn’t give us ultimatums.
Jesus allows us to choose. He’s there waiting for our acceptance of Him. He’s willing to communicate if we open that door. And that’s how we should be toward those who are unwilling or unable to appreciate our love and presence in their lives.
Loving from afar can be hard. You wonder if you should do more. You wonder if the relationship will ever be pleasant. You wonder if your prayers and loving as Jesus would is working.