It's never been more clear to me lately that the only way people will want to come and have a relationship with Jesus is when they see him in our lives. Yes…there will be a few that come because of tragedy, signs and wonders. But the only reason the rest would ever want anything to do with Jesus is if they are attracted to him; when they see him in us. I realize that isn't a new or profound thought. Probably every follower of Jesus would agree with me.
However, I don't think we realize the extent to which we would need to love and demonstrate compassion in order to present the attraction to Jesus. I don't think most followers of Jesus are ready or willing to die to self, lay down our time and resources, truly empathize, or seek to understand people so that we can show the kind of compassion that makes people see Jesus and not just a nice version of us.
I have had the opportunity lately to know a really great group of primarily non-religious people. They are kind, helpful, understanding, caring, and happy, just like many believing people I know. In fact, the only significant difference between these two groups of people is not in their lives but in their schedules. The later attend some sort of religious gathering on a semi-regular basis. That's about it.
When I think of the difference between "nice" and "like Jesus" I am overwhelmed by the gap between the two in my life. The gap that's evident when I read 1 Corinthians 13.
- To live like Jesus is to extend extreme grace and gentleness to people when my own patience has run out.
- To live like Jesus is to show extreme compassion without debating if the person deserves it.
- To live like Jesus is to always seek to understand someone, rather than judge them according to my standards or values.
- To live like Jesus is to treat people the way I would want to be treated.
- To live like Jesus means to accept I will sometimes be walked on by the very people I am there to help.
- To live like Jesus is to not put up a fight, defend myself, or look to blame.
- To live like Jesus is to only fight when you’re fighting for justice for someone else who can't.
- To live like Jesus is to not even be irritable with people who are not like me or whom I cannot control.
- To live like Jesus means I don't look for opportunities to influence people to think better of me, rather I look for opportunities to influence people to think better about themselves or others.
- To live like Jesus means I don't write people off with stereotypes and generalizations, rather I always persevere with people I don't understand.
- To live like Jesus means I constantly say and do things that make people feel they are awesome and valuable and not less than or inferior.
- To live like Jesus isn't to try and copy His miracles, signs, wonders and prophecy.
- To live like Jesus is to be known for extreme and explainable love that goes beyond human power or product. It's a life that points people past the everyday "nice" and "good" and makes them crave the same.
- To live like Jesus is impossible by my own effort. Only a growing relationship with Him can produce a growing likeness of Him. Thankfully I don't have to muster His match. I do, though, need to make time for His company.
But to not live like Jesus is to cast convincing doubt over whether or not I am really His follower at all. And worse, to not live like Jesus is to contribute to the argument that He doesn't exist at all.