We moved around a bunch when I was a kid. One summer afternoon, days fresh into a recent move, Mom was busy scrubbing the baseboards of our new home. My sister – only 5 and rather shy – answered a knock at the door. A boy of about the same age stood on the porch, staring for a moment before asking a particularly ballsy question for a kid his size: “So you gonna come out and play or do I have to punch your lights out?”
He and my sister became instant friends.
Actually, no. My tiny, timid sister slammed the door in his face. And I, the loving big sister, quite overcome by the hilarity of the situation, cataloged every detail of the event so I could blog about it nearly 30 years later.
Why this neighbor kid offered those two choices as his first impression, I don’t know, but he was the baby brother of teenage boys and his method of introduction proved he had learned the skills necessary to survive his family dynamic. He could articulate his needs and he didn’t mess around. He wanted friendship and he was willing to fight for it.
I wonder if the everyday interactions we share with complete strangers would be simpler if everyone were more direct; if needs, expectations, and insecurities were verbalized right up front. Someone asks me to come out and play, I put them on the ‘possible future friends’ list. Someone threatens to punch my lights out, they get placed under the ‘people to avoid’ category.
My life and my interactions with people aren’t about me anymore. I’m a Christ follower. What I say and what I do are supposed to point people to Jesus. I extend patience because He is patience. I love because He is love. I don’t instinctively show these qualities on my own. Left on my own, I’m selfish, self-centered, and I mess everything up. I fall short in every possible way. I needed a Savior because I desperately needed saving from myself.
The truth is, everyone needs Jesus, whether they recognize it or not. The root of our insecurities and emotional needs stem back to our soul’s desperate need for a Savior. It’s a longing, really, and it’s difficult to verbalize. If I want to be the kind of Christ follower who points people directly to Jesus, I need to reflect an accurate picture of my loving Savior and His ability to fill any need. I can be direct without making threats.
And these are very good things. Because Jesus doesn’t belong on anyone’s ‘people to avoid’ list.