It was a typically sunny and warm Texas afternoon when I sat down for a few minutes to scroll through my Facebook newsfeed. I scrolled past the usual “what I ate for breakfast”-type updates, “liked” some baby pictures in my news feed and browsed people’s status updates. And then I saw it. The status update that would haunt me for a very long time and challenge the way I live out my Christian walk. It went something like this:
Who lets their 4 year old scream at the grocery store for 20 minutes without doing anything about it. That’s not patience. That’s stupidity.
Most of us have experienced this… wandering through the grocery store while the shrieks of somebody else’s child follow us aisle after aisle. (Some of us have even been the mother of that crying child **ahem** and we’ve just pushed through because the groceries have to be bought if the rest of the family is going to eat that week.)
The discussion that followed was even more interesting than the original comment. Should the Mama have taken the child home? Should she have spanked the child? Was it ok that she let her child’s crying disturb others? Was the poster being too harsh on the anonymous mother? Could there be disabilities or medical issues that would explain the child’s behavior or was it just a complete lack of discipline? The debate on Facebook was hot.
I get it. I really do. Nobody wants to hear somebody else’s screaming kid at the grocery store. But what if this happened somewhere else? What if this wasn’t at the grocery store? What if this mother had shown up in church with her screaming child? How would we have responded then? In a good church, I suspect the comments would have sounded like this:
Would your son like to color with these crayons for a little while?
May I give your little one a snack?
Sister, may I hold her so that you can listen to the sermon?
Sweetheart, come meet my children so that you have friends to play with.
Somehow, in church, we know to extend grace and acceptance and to lend a helping hand wherever we can. But when we walk into the grocery store we roll our eyes and think to ourselves, “Can’t that lady make her child behave?”
Why don’t we treat people that we meet in the grocery store… on the street… anywhere in our day-to-day lives the same way we would treat them at church?
Is our Christianity a garment that we put on once a week for church and then take off again and lay aside for another 7 days?
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Something I’ve learned in the past few years of farming is that, despite how things may look to an outsider, we can’t ever truly know somebody else’s situation. We have no idea what is going on in that Mama’s life. Maybe the child was sick. Maybe the child has special needs that aren’t obvious to an observer. Maybe the Mama was overwhelmed with another sick child or a sick parent or had just had a fight with her husband or doesn’t have a husband or she has serious financial concerns or… it could be a thousand other things. Maybe that Mama is going through something tough and really just needs encouragement and grace. Maybe she doesn’t know Jesus… It’s hard to train children to mind if you don’t know Jesus. I don’t know what that Mama was going through, but I do know that you can’t ever tell what someone else is going through by assuming. The only way to truly get into someone else’s shoes is through a close relationship. And it isn’t always possible to have a close relationship with the people we meet.
So what is our job then, as followers of Christ? And what does all this have to do with “How to Make This Year The Best Year Ever?”
In American Sign Language, the sign for “Christian” literally translates to “Jesus-person.”
Jesus Christ inside an ordinary person.
What would happen this year if we really took it to heart that Jesus lives inside us? What if we really believed that our feet are meant to take us to where Jesus needs us to be? What if we really dedicated our hands to be the hands that the Lord uses to do His work in the lives of others? What would the world look like if every Christian across the planet seriously committed themselves to being the hands and feet of Christ here on earth?
What would happen this year if we treated everyone that we meet the same way we would treat them if they had just walked through the front doors of our church?
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There would be more sympathy. More understanding. More patience. More help. More lifting each other up in prayer.
The world would be a better place. And this would be the best year ever.
Today we’re chatting about practical ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus over at our Good Old Days Farm Fun Facebook Group. Join us? Or leave a comment telling me how somebody has been the hands and feet of Jesus to you.