|I wonder what would happen if Jesus came back to live among us. Suppose He just wanted to see up close what we’re doing with our lives, how we’re treating one another, and if we’re practicing the values of love, compassion, and mercy that He taught. I imagine Him taking on a human form that would allow Him to live as one of us. The Jesus I love probably would not take the position of a CEO of a large company or a well-known leader.
He might be more likely to return as a homeless person. The thought of that makes me shudder. For just last week, a homeless man approached me, and I turned away. Was it a lack of empathy on my part? Fear perhaps? It doesn’t matter why really. I could have been generous, but I chose to be selfish – not just with my money, but worse, with my heart. Dear Jesus, if that was you, could you forgive me?
He could come back as an overwhelmed mother. It was not so long ago I saw such a lady in a grocery store with an infant and two active toddlers. She simply could not manage the shopping, hold the baby, and monitor the other two children. Several people in the store, myself included, watched but did nothing to assist. We just kind of glared, with looks that said “Lady, please control your kids so they don’t disturb us”. I guess it’s just easier to judge than to give help. Jesus, if that was you, could you forgive me?
He could come back as a lonely old man, like the one who lives next door to me. My neighbor keeps to himself and we seldom speak – and to be honest I haven’t made an effort to change that. I’ve never offered to help him lug his groceries up the stairs, scrape ice off his sidewalk, or do any of the many tasks that must surely challenge an elderly man. Have I been too lazy to be kind? Too self-involved to reach out? Jesus, if that is you, could you forgive me?
Of course, I don’t really believe that any of those individuals is actually my Savior. That’s a relief considering how I’ve treated them, except for the fact that He was watching what I did (and failed to do) in my interactions with these people. If I hurt them, did I not hurt Jesus, too? For He has said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”. So, still I must ask, Jesus, can you forgive me?
These days, many of us are so caught up in our busy lives that someone else’s needs or helplessness may be seen as an annoyance that distracts us from our own thoughts and plans. Think about it for a moment. Every single day offers chances to be helpful, supportive, or generous. What do you do with your chances? Do you see a person in need as an opportunity to touch another life – or as an intrusion on your own? Do you walk away, when you could reach out? Do you judge, when you could support? When we fail to help, aren’t we failing Jesus? And ourselves?
There are those who suggest we would make better choices in our lives by first asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” I wonder if we might make better choices about how we treat others by asking ourselves “What would I do if that person was Jesus?” Or, “What would I do toward another person if Jesus was watching?” (He is!).
I doubt if I’ll encounter Jesus in the form of one of the many people with whom I interact each day in the course of my life. But if I could strive to treat those individuals as if they were Jesus, I’m pretty sure He would be a lot more pleased with the person I had become. And so would I.
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|David L. Weatherford|