When I was a child, Mum gave each of us her children a small duty or two.
I was the eldest and started by feeding and watering the chickens daily. Later I cleaned out the hen-house once a week. When my sister was old enough she took that over the feeding part. I stepped up to become the polisher of the family’s shoes and the one who cut the old newspapers into strips for use in the toilet (or “bathroom”). We were not wealthy and so practised a primitive form of recycling. Later I also kept my own bedroom clean as well as tidy.
Thinking back, I’m glad mum didn’t start me off cleaning the bathroom or the whole house. She kept the house spotless with typically Dutch thoroughness; as an 8 year old (and even later) I would not have measured up. But what I did in my own small way I did well: everyone’s shoes shone after I had finished that weekly task.
This is very much the way life (and I believe God) deal with us – most of the time (and that’s another blog).
Despite being a mature-age adult I cannot care about others the way God loves us. Nor can I ever live by God’s standards the way Jesus did. Despite having the training and temperament that enabled me to work fruitfully for nearly 40 years as a Christian pastor, it has always been impossible for me to be available to people to anything like the extent Jesus was. Just think of some of the stories that show his heart for people of all kinds at all times and despite constant attacks!
None of us can love God and follow God’s blueprint for us in the intense, self-sacrificing and utterly determined way Jesus did. Think of it: no marriage, no place he could call home, no regular income, nobody to stand by him in his last agonising hours.
And if you’re not a committed Christian, the same shortcomings remain true.
Just as well God never asks us to love and obey him to the same extent Jesus did. But as a Christ-follower I am told I will want to imitate our Lord – or else! God expects me to reflect His love and loyalty: Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. You can read this in context in 1 John 4:7-9.
And hey, with God’s help I’ve found I can do that, just like I could faithfully feed the chooks at age 6 and keep the family shoes glowing. I know, because I meet people all the time who are much more Christ-like than others I meet. I know this also because of the comments folk make to me about my work.