Reflecting Jesus Through Patience and Kindness
One thing I absolutely HATE is going to a certain department store around Christmastime. It’s one of those places where if they gave me the entire store’s contents for free, I likely wouldn’t even show up. And here’s why: my fellow customer’s impatience and the seemingly unending ability to be unkind. It boggles my mind.
I never get hit by other people’s carts at any other store at Christmas or any other time of year, but when I go to this particular store at Christmastime, I can count on it happening more than once. It’s painful. It has made me actually cry before. All to save a buck.
But what’s even worse is that the behavior of my fellow shoppers doesn’t even reflect the season. Is Christmas really about finding the best deal on that toy that isn’t even going to be played with after the New Year? We sing about good cheer, but why aren’t we living it even when we’re shopping? And seriously, is trampling over fellow shoppers worth saving a buck when people end up killed or severely wounded? Violence, Impatience, and simply being unkind doesn’t at all reflect the Baby in the Manger. It doesn’t reflect the countless songs of joy, good cheer, and all the magic of Christmas. In fact, this behavior and attitude is the polar opposite of that!
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Whether it’s Christmas or any other day of the year, how can we reflect Jesus through our patience and kindness?
Reading: Matthew 19:13-15, Mark 10:13-16, Luke 18:15-17, 1 Corinthians 13:1-4
This story is just super simple, but it’s one that packs a pretty big punch. Parents started bringing their children to Jesus, that He might lay His hands on them and pray for them. Innocent enough, right? But then the disciples rebuke the parents.
Now, we don’t know exactly what the disciples said to the parents, maybe something along the lines of “Jesus is too busy and too important to stoop down to this low position of dealing with your children.” Sometimes I think we put way too many rules on what Jesus is willing to deal with. We believe that we have to “fix” ourselves before coming to Jesus for salvation. We believe that Jesus is too busy and too important to be bothered with little insignificant prayers that aren’t urgent. We believe that Jesus can’t possibly accept us into heaven through grace, so we go through all this effort to make ourselves worthy of heaven by trying to earn our way through works. See… We put too many rules and just like the disciples in this story with the children, we completely miss the point! We miss Jesus!
From this story, what can we learn about reflecting Jesus through patience and kindness?
Jesus insisted that all people (regardless of age, rank, gender, and even belief system) were important to Him. In Mark, Jesus’ response to the disciples rebuking the parents was that he was indignant. Jesus was angry at the disciples’ unfair treatment of these parents and children. The same children that the disciples believed weren’t worthy of Jesus’ time were the same children that Jesus called to Himself. How does this show patience? I think of my own children. My children are super friendly and always want to have conversations with people. The problem is that my children are still at a stage where they aren’t completely understood. Their pronunciations on words are sometimes so wrong that they require a translator (enter: mom and dad). On top of that, kids are wiggly and active. Did those kids understand who Jesus was or why He might be important? And, then you have to figure that they likely waited in line for their turn to talk to Jesus. Waiting. In line. My boys get bored kind of quickly. I’m sure Jesus showed a lot more patience in this exchange than I do some days waiting in line with my kids! Best of all, Jesus was kind. He invited these wiggly and active children. He invited the kids who were pretty hard to understand. He invited the parents who were waiting in that line (maybe even impatiently). Jesus didn’t put limitations on who could come to Him. He didn’t put rules on who was worthy of His attention.
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Jesus was (and is) entirely different from the world around Him. Jesus patiently and kindly revealed, even further, who He was to His disciples. He revealed that no one was too small, unimportant, or unworthy of His time. Even in today’s culture, this is the polar opposite of what we would expect. Do we see the rich and famous interacting with all people, regardless of how much money they have, where they live, what they believe, or how old they are? Do we see young celebrities hanging out at nursing homes and spending their time with the people who live and work there? Do we see celebrities regularly interacting with the homeless? Do we see celebrities spending their time with people who might be “lower than” when it doesn’t involve a promotion of themselves, their brand, or their product? Jesus showed up and spent time with the very people that we might say were beneath Him. He showed up and just gave them Himself. The disciples expected Jesus to behave the same way other leaders did. They expected Jesus to behave more like a celebrity than a loving, patient, and kind human. They expected Jesus to live by earthly standards rather than Kingdom ones. Jesus was patient with their expectation and He kindly surpassed their expectations to show them something far more beautiful. He showed them Himself!
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Jesus encouraged His disciples to reflect Kingdom standards rather than earthly ones. While the disciples pushed the children away, Jesus pulled them in close. Jesus patiently shows and informs us of the culture in heaven. He is patient where we would likely lose our tempers. He is kind where we might feel certain people are unworthy of our kindness. He is loving to His enemies where we might show hate. He patiently and kindly used the very children they tried to keep away to teach them a very valuable lesson about the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God encourages and welcomes the children. The Kingdom of God encourages us to approach God and His Kingdom with the faith of a child. In fact, if we can’t humble ourselves like a child, then we won’t be able to enter God’s Kingdom. Kingdom standards are so vastly different than earthly ones!
So how can we show Jesus through our patience and kindness? We can reflect the Kingdom of Heaven rather than earthly standards. We can choose to see value in all of the people around us and believe that no one is unworthy of our attention (or His). Just like our Christmas shopping attitudes and actions should reflect the season, as followers of Jesus, we should reflect Him.
Will we be patient, reflecting Jesus, in our everyday lives? Will we be kind to those around us, even when it’s not Christmas?