What is Christianity all about? Serving. Somewhere between the end of the first century and our present time, the model of the Servant-King has been lost! A servant’s heart identifies one as having compassion, being conscientious, and showing concern. Our society seeks celebrity status and it is often sought at the expense of conviction and character. This push towards notoriety even trickles down into the Christian faith in subtle ways. Only when "what can I do for you" replaces "what is in it for me" can I personally begin to grow as a fulfilled servant.
Nature gives us illustrations of how we can serve one another to better live together. The principle is called community. It involves living together, but neither at the expense of the other. For example, there is a little saltwater fish called a “goby.” The goby has poor eyesight and is defenseless; thus, is vulnerable to predators. However, the goby is a superb digger. Shrimp have great eyesight and good defenses but are poor diggers. Thus, they lack proper shelter.
Community results in the goby digging a hole in which the two live together. The goby provides the burrow and the shrimp serves as a lookout and protector. Neither lives at the expense of the other without providing for the other and that’s God’s design for the Christian community.
The Apostle Paul said, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day...So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). If we see with the eyes of faith, we will never be thrown off our course in the Christian race by the turmoil in this world. We truly need more of what the early Christians needed—eyes of faith.
With eyes of faith the Apostle John saw beyond the present discouraging situation to the things as they were in God’s world. Eyes of faith enabled him to see the hope Christians could have in what appeared to be hopeless situations. John wrote in the Revelation (21:1-4) “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away…I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband…There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Let us not miss seeing the unseen that gives meaning to all that we do see. The unseen realities give us meaning and purpose to life.
Jonah was to go to Nineveh and preach to a people who were on all accounts a wicked people. Jonah was reluctant to preach for he did not care to see them repent and change their ways. Later when God forgave them for their sins Jonah was unhappy. This week take time to reflect on people you know who are not necessarily wicked as they were known to be in Nineveh, but just those difficult people in your life. Consider the value of going to that person in your life who might be a bit more challenging or presents you a little more difficulty from time to time and telling them you love them.
How is your love for the difficult person in your life? Is there someone you are trying to avoid that you have found to be difficult? Do you want God to forgive you more than you are willing to forgive someone else? If so, you may have a Jonah problem. I think I have learned something beneficial over the years about dealing with challenging people. I’ve learned that if I ignored those folks or brushed them off it was never going to improve our relationship. In fact, it could even hinder my relationship with God. I have learned Jesus didn’t avoid difficult people, He loved them. Thankfully, our God loved us, before we loved Him.
Because God is kind, His people can also be kind. His nature can be reproduced in ours. Bearing the fruit of the Spirit is a process whereby the old, sinful nature is replaced with the character traits, which belong to a Holy God. Because the Spirit of God indwells us, the sinful tendency to be unfeeling and uncaring begins to be overcome by the power of love.
Jesus Christ was the master at that sort of thing. He would reach out to people when there was no reason why he should. He became involved in the lives of people who did not deserve his attention. He befriended the lonely and the unlovely. He built relationships with powerless and unimportant people. By means of his manner, he won the hearts of men and women to God.
Do we imitate Christ in our dealings with people? It is one thing to be indignant and tell someone off who has offended you; it is something else again to be gracious with that person and to win him or her with kindness. If more of us would learn to live in kindness, the world would be a happier and brighter place for all. Churches would be at peace. Families would be healed. Individual lives could be positive influences in a frequently negative world. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).