I remember having a conversation with someone who said, “Being a Christian would be easy if you didn’t have to deal with actual people.”
He was being funny, of course. But what he meant was that following Jesus and God’s commands are easy… until you have to put them into practice with actual flesh and blood people. Flawed people who sometimes rub you the wrong way or disagree with you.
But we live in a world with… people.
We are called to live out our values amidst other… people.
We worship with other… people.
We work and go to school alongside other… people.
We live in families with other… people.
That’s why Scripture comes along to help re-frame our thinking. In Romans 15:7 Paul gave this advice to the Roman Christians about receiving people into the church they disagreed with: “Welcome one another, then, just as Christ welcomed you, in order to bring praise to God.”
The reason I think that’s helpful is because it reminds us that our attitude toward others should be based on Jesus’ attitude toward us. In other words, deal with people based on what Jesus has done for you, not on what people have done to you or for you.
Someone will bother, upset or frustrate you. And you’ll probably bother, upset or frustrate someone else! But Paul teaches that we should re-think how we form our attitudes toward others in our faith communities. After all, if Jesus had treated all of us like we deserved to be treated, none of us would have a hope!
So be gracious.
Deal with people based on what Jesus has done for you, not on what people have done to you or for you.
By Matthew Ruttan