Relationships can be so hard to navigate, especially when dealing with difficult situations. This year, while in one of those difficult situations, I was praying, “God, how do I love this person who is acting unlovely? How do I look like Jesus to this person?”
Jesus is a beautiful example for us to follow when dealing with our relationships. He was all three of these things: available, approachable, and accepting. We can look at His example and find ways to do and be the same.
Jesus made Himself available to many. He walked all over, and taught and healed people in different venues. He taught outside to thousands. In Mark 10:13-16, Jesus told the disciples to let the little children come to Him. The disciples wanted to turn them away, but Jesus made it clear they were welcome, and He was available to them as well.
What this looks like for me: I should not pack my schedule so full of things that I am just running from one thing to the next. I need to be able to make time to just sit and talk to someone. I have been sitting out on our front porch more in the morning, drinking my coffee. That time has not only become a good time to chat with my kids, but my neighbors have stopped over as well.
This is a big one nowadays...not being on a device constantly. My kids will see that I have sat down, and come up and want to snuggle or chat. If my face is planted in my device, I do not seem available. I look busy.
Jesus was approachable. I think a lot about what Jesus's face must have looked like. Gentle. Loving. A light we will never be able to describe until we see it. Because others saw this in Him, they approached Him in bold ways. The men who lowered their crippled friend from the rooftop of a home, just to see Jesus, and to boldly ask for healing (Mark 2: 1-12). The woman who was ill but knew if she could just touch His garments she would be healed (Mark 5: 24-34).
What this looks like for me: Same thing with devices here. If my nose is planted in a device when I am at the store, in the waiting room at the doctor's office, or just anywhere...I do not seem approachable. I look busy.
Wear a kind face. Smile even when it’s hard. I think everyone can relate to a situation where you see someone out and about, someone you don’t have the best ties with, and you are tempted to pass them by, act as if you didn’t see them, or just plain snub them. Instead of doing that, why not say hello and smile? I tell my kids all the time to be the person who says hello first.
Jesus was accepting. Jesus was known to associate with "sinners." In Luke 7:36-50, Jesus is dining at a Pharisee’s house when a sinful woman comes in, touches Him, cries on His feet, and wipes His feet with her tears. The Pharisee rebukes Jesus, “if he knew who was touching him.” But Jesus sets him straight.
What this looks like for me: Love first.
When I was younger I had a friend. He had a different kind of lifestyle and was made fun of a lot at school. I sat with this friend at lunch almost every day during my senior year in high school. One day, out of the blue, he asked me what the Bible said about his lifestyle. Honestly and lovingly I told him. He listened to what I said, asked more questions, and then we went on with our day. We were still friends. God reminds me of that day often. Because I loved my friend first, he knew I was a safe person to ask and to give him a gentle answer, without judgment, yelling, or fighting. I cannot think of a single time when I have influenced someone in a positive way when I have yelled, argued, or been judgmental. Love first. It’s better.
These are some of the things God is working on in me to be more like Him. Take some time today to reflect and pray how God would have you be more available, approachable, and accepting to the people around you.