Sometimes I praise God for my good Christian friends. Sometimes, though, I'm not so appreciative.
I was driving in the car one day with one of these friends. I had just got done calling her out for complaining about her job that just months earlier she had been praying desperately to God for. So she was eager to return the "favor" when we were driving down a country back road and I commented on a car that we passed, calling it "the most broken down beater of a hoopty I've ever seen". And this car was a beater...rusted through, broken out headlights, tail pipe dragging the asphalt, windshield busted and the doors were mismatched colors from the rest of the car.
My friend looked at me and admonished, "Jenny, how can you say that? You don't know. They could be good hard working people who have lots of medical bills or are taking care of destitute family members. They could be a heroin addict trying to turn their life around and on their way to work and that is all they could afford for transportation. What would you do if it was Jesus driving that car???"
My heart sank. She was right. I replied, in defeated tone, "If it was Jesus driving that car, I'd flag him down and switch him cars. I would want to give Jesus my best." And then I seriously considered whether or not to go back and try to find that driver and give them my car.
Matthew 25:40 and 45 say, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."
There are two questions we need to ask ourselves when we look at our lives. The first, if you were standing face to face with Jesus, is there anything you wouldn't give Him, do for Him or any place we wouldn't go for Him? If anything comes to mind, it's an idol in your life, something you worship more than Christ Himself.
The scripture above, though, presents the harder of the two questions. If you were standing face to face with any random person in the world, is there anything you wouldn't give that person, do for them or any place you wouldn't go for them? Think hard. Think about the person you don't like, the person who's wronged you, the person who steals or is a con artist. Is there anything you would withhold from them? That thing, too, is an idol.
In a culture that is so focused on increasing its standard of living, it is counter intuitive to want to trade "down", to elevate others ahead of ourselves, to work harder ourselves to raise other people up. Yet many times in the Gospel we see where Christ teaches this very thing, to the point where Jesus gives His own life for people who don't deserve it, all in His Father's name. We can follow in Christ's example, not only in being willing to give everything up for the sake of others, but also by displaying our complete freedom from all things earthy by mentally releasing ourselves from any attachment we may have to things of this life and by only clinging to God Almighty. The Lord is not concerned with our actions as much as He is our heart. Living with a free heart, one that is attached to Him and only Him is far more important to the Lord than a bitter heart that gives everything away, if a bitter heart is even capable of that.
So, think about your perceptions of those around you. Who are you not willing to humble yourself to in order to elevate them? What subtle judgments do you make that elevates you above others? What makes you want to do that? What if that person was Jesus? Would you react differently?