My kids are usually quick to remember their please and thank you’s. They also understand what it means to sincerely apologize. However, when we’re in a public setting with people they do not know very well, I still have to prompt when shyness takes over.
When we were in a grocery store a while back, a kind clerk had given my 5 year old a sticker. I gently reminded, “What do you say?” With the biggest eyes he looked right at her and said, “I’m sorry!” He then looked at me and said, “What did I do?”
We smiled and I explained that I had really just wanted him to tell her “thank you!”
But I also realized life often becomes just like the sticker apology. There are so many things we’re supposed to do or say to one another, that pretty soon, we’re going through the niceties without even knowing what we’ve done or have not done!
As adults we have learned the polite way you say something in various settings. That may be quite a distance from kindness, but generally speaking there is a code of conduct that you know to abide by. If we’re being completely honest, it has been our scapegoat more than once. If we do not care for a person or a situation, we just act polite and quickly find a reason to leave.
And then we’re faced with a situation where I believe Jesus might say “you have heard the world teach” or “you have experienced the world do…” He would remind us that we have a position now and as His children who live in the marvelous light, we are to be different.
Before returning to God the Father, Jesus prayed a prayer that can be found in John 17. In verse 11, He specifically prays that the disciples would be one. Just as Jesus and the Father are one. His desire was for them to be so unified that, in turn, we all could experience the closeness that He experienced with His Father.
Is the way I’m treating my fellow believers a reflection of God and His relationship with the trinity?
If this was Jesus’ prayer for us, the ramifications for missing this or disregarding it completely must bear eternal weight! He actually goes on to pray this 2 more times (vs 20 & 22) during just this chapter’s recording! In verse 20, of chapter 17, Jesus prays that “those who would believe in Me, through their word,” (ie. us and any believers following the disciples) would also be one. Jesus wanted us to experience the closeness of relationship but He also declared something even greater was at stake!
“…that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (vs 20)
Do you see what He is saying? Our unity as believers is the way that the world is going to believe! The way they see us treating one another will be proof that the Father sent the Son. The entire gospel, the salvation of the world is about relationship. And God’s earnest desire is for us, His children, to represent that relationship to an unbelieving world. At a recent conference, author Bruce Ware said: “A disobedient heart really means that there is disrespect, lack of trust, and that the heart is actually closed.”
The way we treat one another, is a reflection on our relationship with God. Jesus never said anything about being polite. He prayed for oneness.
The Apostle Paul says in Galatians, chapter 4, that the way to show this unity is to walk with “…all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (vs 1-3)
May we live today with an eagerness to maintain unity. May all the world know.