I have been recently blessed by an extended-family holiday in a large house in a beautiful setting. There were four generations, from a toddler to an octogenarian, with an average of a dozen people sharing times at the beach, times in the garden and times at the table, amongst other things.
At one of the meal times around a very large table, I watched my little grandson request to be lifted into his high chair as soon as the aroma from the kitchen wafted through. Hungry, he requested his dinner and behaved well as it took some considerable time to bring all the serving dishes through and for his then plated up meal to cool down.
His dinner consumed, he then politely requested his pudding and was told to wait for everyone else to finish their dinners. Next, pudding was served and he consumed his at great speed! So, then he requested to be allowed to get down and play with his toys but again he was gently told to wait for everybody else. He managed, with a huge effort not to self-combust and with praise from everyone he was finally set down to re-engage with his pre-dinner activities.
Watching this scenario repeat throughout the week, I observed that he, having accomplished the weaning process, was now learning the social skills that would be required by society as his age and independence increased.
Reflecting on this, I realised that although every one of us at the table had learnt what the acceptable standard of behaviour was, inside of each of us, the child within or our flesh if you like, still clamoured for ‘I want, whatever I want and I want it now!’
But biblically, Jesus gives us this command, (in second place).
Book of Mark Chapter 12 Verse 31
The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The Apostle Paul reiterates;
Book of 1 Corinthians Chapter 10 Verse 24
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbour.
This is such a challenge as, in short and simple summary, our neighbour is anyone and everyone. Arghhhh! This clashes headlong against our selfish inner natures and ensures a second by second battle to choose the last place in a world where coming first is seen as the recognised position to covet.
Potentially, this holiday could have been a rehearsal for a remake of The Clash of the Titans as our party also included young people, a heavily pregnant lady and a disabled wheelchair user, all with very different and sometimes opposing wants and needs! However, thanks to everyone being thoughtful, kind and considerate, we all had a wonderful time. Are we all Christian? No, but we do all love each other and that makes selfless decisions easier to make for everyone.
However, for those of us walking the narrow path, the call to love your neighbour as yourself includes those you don’t know, don’t like and you certainly don’t love!
Book of Matthew Chapter 5 Verse 46
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
Oh my, this high calling feels all but impossible, doesn’t it? But. Yes, there is a ‘but’.
As we receive Him and respond to His sacrificial love for us, our minds are renewed, our spirits are strengthened and our hearts are softened, thereby making possible and enabling us to obey Him and make decisions wisely for His sake, walking out the culture of the Kingdom and not the culture of this earthly world. Thank you Lord Jesus.
God bless you all.