Years ago, America was flooded with What Would Jesus Do? plastic bracelets, in neon hues of primary colors. “WWJD” followed us everywhere, reminding us to be moral, even when no one was looking. If the cashier made an error in our favor, what would Jesus do? He’d go back and point out the error, and pay the difference, of course. He’d also let the other car in ahead of Him in heavy traffic, we assume, and He certainly always used His manners. For the lifetime of the average trend, many of us walked in a higher plain of politeness.
We drank coffee after my unimpressive pasta dinner (sauce from a jar, with heated up frozen meatballs, non-organic, very GMO). This lady, stereotypically trim and proper, after a polite post-dinner time-lapse, pushed back her chair and stood. “We must clean up now! It will never do to leave it to morning!” She clapped twice, ordering me to my dishwashing station, and I began loading up the sink, weary, needing grace, not orders. By the time they left the next day, I felt disapproved of and assaulted. I clearly failed all inspection. The dishes were all done, though.
It could be called emotional and spiritual care. It also could be called loving.
Loving my family and friends is a big job. Yes, I do have a big family, but I know they are each here for a short season, and I know they will soon be less convenient to love, and to pray for. So much is in your face when your kids are young and still at home. Not all conversations are happy and easy. Not all prayers are generous and joy-filled. But they are in your life, in your house, in your space. So much opportunity surrounds us. Our season of influence, our chance to love, is so, so short.
It makes me so, so glad and thankful that I’ve taken all of that time, when I could.
I’m understanding that love is such an opportunity, but we often forgo it. There is so much to do to impress the world. Jesus had a very impressive, unmatched, in fact, last 3 years. We want to be like Him, to do great things for Him, even greater, supernatural things. But what of the thirty years that led to His public ministry? What did He do? He was a carpenter’s son. He had a big family. He was a regular at the synagogue. Those years are hidden, kept secret from us. This doesn’t mean that these years weren’t noteworthy. Jesus is Jesus and they were surely amazing. But maybe He learned something during those years that became the foundation for all that we do know about Him and His ways. Maybe He really learned to love, and He did so by loving.
It could be that many of us are learning to love, in a very routine, if hectic, way. Maybe we’re learning that having nothing to post on social media is ok. Our lives aren’t flashy or impressive to the average onlooker, but maybe God is looking on and nodding; “Yes, I see love, more than yesterday, even. I’m pleased.” When we do things the way that Jesus did things, it’s oftentimes less to do with following rules and achieving remarkable things. We live and serve behind the scenes, to please Him, not those watching at church and online. It’s more about honoring, bearing with, and giving of ourselves to others. It’s about stopping and taking time to notice where love is needed, and then giving it. We may not even need to leave our homes.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”