I have to admit something right now.
There are some people out there (and some of them might even know who they are) I just don’t like very much. I would not go so far as to say I hate anyone, but there are definitely people that really chap my hide. It’s probably like that for anyone—maybe even for everyone.
I never believed that Will Rogers crap for a second. He never met a man he didn’t like? Try driving in California traffic, Will. Or wait behind a snowbird at a green light for five minutes while they try and figure out which pedal is the accelerator.
Maybe there’s a person like that in your life.
Maybe the guy in the next cubicle is a really obnoxious, really profane fellow, and you’re tired of hearing him talk about his weekend activities in a voice loud enough to make sure everyone knows what a pimp he is. Or maybe your boss keeps skipping you for a promotion, and never recognizes what you bring to the table, and the office.
Or it could be something a little different. Maybe it’s not so much thinking that you don’t like someone, but the person in question just pushes your buttons in exactly the right (or wrong) way. Like the person who knocks on your door selling God in a convenient, pamphlet sized package to be read later, when you have the time. Or the homeless man that follows you down the street, begging for change, or food, or the shirt off your back.
It could be a million things, a ton of different scenarios. You know? People just suck sometimes. They’re rude, and annoying, and just need to go away.
Just because that might actually be true from time to time doesn’t change the fact that if I am the person I say I am, and if I’m really trying to be the person I want to be—the person God wants me to be, I have to behave differently.
I remember four or five years ago, a few friends and I went clubbing in downtown San Diego. We’d parked at Horton Plaza, and when we were done doing our thing, we would walk back to the car. On this particular occasion, it was January the 1st or 2nd, and it was pretty cold. I had on this leather jacket my roommate had given me, and on the way back to the parking structure, we saw a couple of homeless guys sleeping along the wall to this one building that looked like it was probably offices during the day. We had to step around them to pass, and as we did, I felt a very strong call from God to give one of the men my jacket. God was even specific about which one—but I didn’t do it. I was cold. I even remember thinking something like “that dirty bastard should just get a freaking job—then he wouldn’t need to be crashing in doorways.”
I don’t think I wore that jacket again after that night, and eventually it found its way to the trunk of my car. Back in 2007, another friend from church was going downtown around Christmas to hand out jackets, sweaters, and blankets to homeless people. I just so happened to have mine in the trunk of my car, and I immediately went out and got it for her to take. Of course, it’s almost impossible it got to the same person, but still…it should have the first time.
Anyway, I’m back from that tangent. Let me begin another. The other night, I was thinking of the following verse after a conversation with my wife and my older son (It made me think not just about how poorly I have treated people that got my large size panties in a bunch, but also about how I have been one of the “least of these” at several points in my life, and I was shown more grace from others than I have ever given):
40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ –Matt 25:40 (in my NIV, the chapter heading mentions “The Sheep and The Goats.”)
And here’s the other thing that occurred to me. No matter how annoying someone is, no matter how much they piss me off, or inconvenience me, no matter how much I dislike them—even if for what seems like a really good reason
Jesus still died for that person, just as much as he died for me. And he also loves them, just like he loves me. So I can longer treat people the way most of the world would tell me to, or how I feel they should be treated.
Dang. The “golden rule” sucks sometimes.
I’ll leave you with another few verses, from Isaiah.
3 He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Like one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.