I enter the New Year weighing 17 ½ pounds more than I should, yet my resolution for the future doesn’t have anything to do with losing weight. I am way behind on my writing projects and have a desk that is Dantesque in its decent into chaos, yet my goal for the new decade has nothing to do with work or organization. I am instead, considering the vow I made forty years ago; to persistently strive to be “perfect in love.” (It’s a Methodist thing. Preachers are asked to “go on to perfection” when they are ordained) Others put it more simply, to be Christ-like in all our relationships.
To treat others as Jesus would treat them is the only resolution worth keeping. When life is over, who we have been will be sorted out. If we succeeded in becoming loving, then this weighing of our hearts will go well. In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus talks about the final judgement of all humanity. The one question on his get-into-heaven test is not “what do you weigh?” or “how successful were you?” or even “what are you worth?” Instead, “Were you compassionate?” (like Jesus)
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs. When my spouse interrupts me as I am trying to work, will I respond to her with patience, giving her a cup of my attention? When a poorly trained teen is slow with my fries and spills my coffee at McDonalds, will I respond with a smile or a kind word? Will I be mindful of how frightening my familiar neighborhood is to a stranger, a person suffering mental illness, or an uninsured family living paycheck to paycheck?
This is the year I really try to do that. (I know I’ve said it in the past) In 2020, I resolve to perfect my love and treat others as Jesus would.