A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. as I have loved you, so you must love one another - John 13:34
I have 2 sons, ages 13 and 15 and it's amazing to watch the dynamics at work in their relationship. There are times that they can be each others best friend, and then they are times where they will wish the other has not been born. I see these dynamics at work in both my personal and professional life. How many times do we determine the value of a relationship by the benefit that it can bring us? Once the individual we are interacting with has no value that lines up with advancing our agenda, we tend to move on. I have been guilty of this on more than one occasion. The sad thing about it is that as a Christian, I am in a great position to have a positive impact on those individuals, but I dropped the ball with my behavior. As a result, I live up (or down for that matter) to the expectations that they have about me as a Christian.
I have seen this at work watching children play and it parallels adult behavior. Please let me explain. One kid may have a toy that no one wants and laughs at them about having it since it's not the "cool" toy like everyone else has. The parallel in the adult world is the Christian that's ostracized in the work place for his beliefs and everyone laughing about his faith and not participating in the "cool" activities with them. The kid with the weird toy is now left alone to play in the sandbox. On the surface, it looks like a bad thing. However, if the kid is secure in who he is, he will start to play with the toy in the sandbox and thoroughly start to enjoy himself like the adult that's secure in his faith. At some point, the kids with the "cool" toys start to look at the kid in the sandbox and wonder why is this kid having fun with the weird toy? They are thinking that their toys are better because the world has said so, but they are no longer as fun. Eventually they make their way over to the sandbox to observe the kid with the toy that's not cool. At some point, they gain enough courage to ask, can I play? This is where we as Christians sometimes stumble. Instead of doing as Jesus stated in the above referenced scripture, we sometimes (from a position of hurt and anger) tell them to get out of the sandbox instead of welcoming them in. I know it's not easy, but we need to show love, put aside our feelings and invite them in the sandbox and play. This is where we show the world the difference that comes from living as Christians.
To love is not a new command, but to love sacrificially as Christ did is the new command. Prior to this, the standard was to love your neighbor as yourself (Leviticus 19:18). Loving one another as Christ loves us is the start of making change for the better in our communities and sphere of influence. It starts with one man.
ACTION PLAN: When others ridicule you for your faith and beliefs, resist the temptation to lash out and invite them into your sandbox to play once your actions compel to investigate your toy further.
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Ken Sadler is a leader of Men's Ministry at a megachurch and has a heart and passion for helping men become the best they can be.