I have spent the past week on an island with my wife’s family. As far as islands go, it is beautiful. The water is bright blue and perfectly clear which makes for great snorkeling on the reef. Most people ride bicycles during their stay on the island but there are also cars. While riding with my daughter local yelled at me from a van that good parents teach their kids to ride on the right side of the road. Now, she’s 7 years old, still learning to ride, and telling left from right is tricky enough (not to mention that she had just come away from the curb). The comment from the local person was just out of line. It was not an isolated incident. My father-in-law experienced something similar when he asked someone to slow down and some of the store holders seemed just irritated when asked a question.
I’ve been asking myself how people see us as followers of Jesus in recent days. Followers of Jesus should be among the most hospitable people. We follow a redemptive God – a God who takes broken things and turns them into something beautiful. Jesus takes us as we are and joins us to God. He makes our lives beautiful. And it is this Jesus we represent. The apostle Paul calls us ambassadors of Jesus. This means that our very lives should reflect what Jesus is like. But how well do we do this?
I think that most of us try to represent Jesus really well but so often people are negative toward Jesus followers. Jesus may be okay but not Christians. They are hypocritical and full of judgement. Jesus offers people freedom, but many see Christians as bringing rules. I’m not saying I agree with these views, but they do show that many people see a disparity between Jesus and his followers. What I find concerning is that it seems like your average non-Jesus follower perceives us in a similar way as I did the van driver.
Not all of the local people of the island were like this. In fact, the majority were very hospitable. Take for example our hosts. He jumped out of his seat at a restaurant, hopped in his van and offered us a ride home when he saw us walk past. He didn’t just see a need and act but went out of his way, at his own expense to meet it. This is true hospitality. And it’s moments like these that help make a holiday special.
Time to make a choice.
So back to my question about how this relates to followers of Jesus. It’s simple really. You have a choice to make. People see what Jesus is like by watching you. You are his representative. And you get to invite others to join your pursuit of him. Will you be like the van driver who left a bad taste in my mouth? Or will you take steps toward true, sacrificial hospitality?