Recently I had one of those epiphanies that kind of smack you in the head when you read the Bible long enough, and especially when you're reading a familiar passage your mind has pondered in the past more than a few times.
One day you get a new perspective, as though observing a landmark from the north instead of the west and you notice things previously hidden from view.
My Bible reading of late has been a slow progression through the Gospel of John and when closing the final chapter this week I took time to reflect on the main character traits which Jesus had displayed and were now 'pricking' my spirit, because I knew they were traits my own character needed work on.
The biggie of the bunch was love.
Love for the lost, love for the broken, love for the sinner, love for those who were unloved, love for the lonely, love for the sick, love for outcast, love for the soiled, love for those who did not know any better.
Here's a few things I noticed about the human character of the Son of God:
He never shared an inside joke with the religious leaders of the day, nor join in their
'holier than thou' street corner prayers. He didn't lay burdens on the poor and ordinary people, look down His nose at them, nor consider them of no value.
He did rebuke the religious leaders, scorn and abuse them for their pride and abominable behaviour towards God, the poor and ordinary people. He called them hypocrites and vipers for the overwhelmingly heavy burdens (additional and expanded Jewish laws, not God-given) that were impossible to perfectly obey but which they punishingly lay upon the Jewish people.
Yet He LOVED those who were persecuted and cast aside, those who did not know any better way, and in the end, He loved the lost with His own life.
When you follow the Gospel accounts, any of the four Gospels, you read of a Jesus who was so incredibly kind and loving and paid attention to needs that others did not notice. He taught with truth and compassion, yet without forsaking any of God's holy commandments. He became the example of humanity He asked others to follow. His life was more than the words He spoke, it was what He did and who He did it for.
What did I learn personally about His love for the unlovable?
That I can't pick and choose who I treat with respect.
That I can't expect someone to do the right thing if they've not been taught to do so.
That if I am cold to someone because they don't live their life the way I do, or believe the things I do, then how will they ever see Jesus in me? How will they ever know there's a nicer, kinder, more respectful way to live and treat others?
If Jesus had treated them the way I sometimes do we wouldn't call Him Saviour...we wouldn't believe He was God...we just wouldn't believe.
So that's my biggie, my character trait that needs attention - to see everyone as a person Jesus loves as much as He loves me, and to show them respect, kindness and care. And all in honour of my Lord Jesus, who 26 years ago pulled me out of a very dark place of abuse and despair, showed me more love, more compassion and more kindness than I ever imagined would fill my life again.
It is only because of my relationship with Him that I am alive and here today.
For more reasons why we need to follow Jesus's example of kindness, respect and care
read Matthew 25: 31-46. Truly, it only takes about 2 or 3 minutes, so please read it.
(It goes without saying that if you're being abused or in an abusive relationship you need to sever ties with the person who is hurting you and tell someone in authority who can step in - speak up, don't be silent. I'm speaking from my own past experience, not from a textbook. xx)
Your sister in Christ,