It so happens that I’m an adherent of Christianity. Not because I was raised in a Christian home or because I was born in the United States or anything like that. I’m attracted to Jesus and what he taught about how to connect with God because I’ve sat down and thought about it, studied it and concluded that what Jesus said is true. But what he said isn’t only about how I connect with God.
Jesus also had a lot to say about how I should treat other people. That’s the hard stuff. One day he was speaking to a crowd of people. Most of them were people who had decided to follow his teaching, so the words he spoke seem to be directed at those of us who have made the choice to be Christians. If you want to read everything he said to the crowd you can find it in the New Testament of the Bible in Matthew 5-7. You should do that some time because the things he said back then are pretty amazing.
At one point early on in his comments, Jesus says, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that.”
We’ve had various pets in the past. We’ve had a dog, a couple of cats, hamsters and goldfish. I liked the goldfish best. I would clean the fishbowl maybe once a week and feed them, but they didn’t require much more. I didn’t have to walk them or play with them. I liked the goldfish best because they required very little effort and I don’t like things that are high maintenance and I can be a little lazy about things like that.
Jesus’ words remind me that I can be relationally lazy. It’s easier to engage with people who are what I want them to be like. I prefer to hang with people that are nice and who I know already like me or don’t require much of me or who I who I would just rather hang out with. The thing is Jesus tells us we have a different approach to take if we want to follow him. He kind of turns all of that upside down and says engaging in relationships that are easy is nothing to pat yourself on the back about. Everybody does that, even people who care nothing about God.
If you really want to reflect God’s character try engaging with people that are hardest for you. Travel the difficult path Jesus challenges you to take.
Do you spend most of your relational energy on “goldfish”?