Genesis tells us that God made man in his image and likeness, which I take to mean that we are a mirror image of God. Jesus tells us to be perfect, even as our Father in heaven is perfect.
We cannot in our material world attain the perfection that God hopes for; but we can use the natural abilities we have, to strive for that ending. The first century Christians understood this. In their daily lives they carried Christ with them in their hearts, in their minds, and in their spiritual teachings to others. When Jesus taught his apostles to go and spread the goodness of God, he empowered them to be the healers and teachers to all mankind, just as He was and did. We can do no less if we want to live the message of Christ.
We cannot, nor are we able, to go back to be as the early Christian; however, as our societies have evolved, some might say devolved, so must our efforts to follow in Christ’s footsteps. This is not easy; in fact, it is probably the most difficult task we have in our cellphone-infected narcissism. We are constantly bombarded by can’t resist advertisements, special events, well-meaning friends and neighbors, and family, all aimed at allowing us to be the modern person, to have the latest iPhone, or 70” Samsung TV. We are encouraged to livestream broadcasts and download our favorite movies on Netflix or Amazon Prime. Life demands that we do this, actually, life (with a lower-case l), demands that we do this.
Life with an upper-case L, asks so much less, yet so much more, of us. Life invites us to Love God and She loves us, and to love each other, as we love ourselves, as we love God. Not so simple a task.
When we lived in New Jersey, we had two families living on our same street who were not what I would consider to be close friends. One was so attuned to his own needs, that anything that he found wrong with his property, he blamed on others, even when he, or his son, was the culprit. This man was not easy to love. The other neighbor was the salt-of-the-earth type. Drove a subway in New York City. Had three boys, who were just like him. When he bent over to get something he had dropped, he had butt-crack the size of a water slide at Kings Dominion. He is one of the nicest people you could possibly have as a neighbor. The problem is, his property looked like it was abandoned by the Joads as they left Oklahoma for California. On a beautifully wooded street, he and his sons would set off airborne fireworks, year-round. And his wife, raising four children including him, left no doubt as to who had the loudest voice in the neighborhood. They were, though, a lovable family.
Both men, who are as opposite as could be possible, are always willing to invite you in on their schemes, and always super-interested in giving advice. One man went to church on a regular basis, the other hadn’t crossed the threshold of a church since the day he married. Both believed in a Loving, forgiving, and healing God. I sometimes wonder which would be considered the true Christian. We are too quick to place people in our self-made categories, too quick to judge.
As God Loves me, She also Loves my two former neighbors. Three men, as different as could be, are equally Loved by the welcoming comfort of a true parent.