Sometimes we forget to be nice to one another. Sometimes we fight, sometimes we snip at one another, sometimes we use biting sarcasm that’s not really sarcasm, making jokes that aren’t really jokes. Sometimes we don’t like one another even if we are both Christians and are supposed to play nice. Sometimes we villanize people, look down at them, get annoyed and harsh and hurtful.
But we’re not supposed to. We’re Christians, right? Then why is there that person who absolutely bugs you, is always complaining, is always a downer, is always negative, is always endlessly and annoyingly cheerful, is always too smart, too kind, too good-looking, too put together, not put together enough, always serving, never serving, always spiritual, never spiritual? Doesn’t it feel virtuous, though, when we sigh, and pray for them, and take the higher road?
But is it the higher road? Why is there virtue in ‘putting up’ with someone? It seems that we get this idea in our heads that there is virtue in martyrdom where relationships are concerned. But…wait for it…I don’t think the answer is in speaking our mind, in blasting other people, in “taking them aside in love” in a way that in no way resembles love and spiritualizing our attack on them because it’s for their own good or the “good of the Body”.
I have, at times, been resigned to my feel-good martyrdom that makes me feel like I’m being holy and Christlike and bearing with others and their wrongs. What I failed to realize is you know, people are going to bug me sometimes. They are going to disappoint me, they are going to do things I disagree with, do thing over and over again that I think they shouldn’t, they are going to do the opposite thing to what I think they should do. And you know what? I don’t always have to be alright with that. But, I do have to treat them like they are made in the image of God.
Being made in the image of God is universal. We are all made to reflect things about God that are good and wonderful, and special. Human beings are created to be relational, to think, to feel, to be creative, to be stewards. So many things. I am proud to be made in the image of God but sometimes, if I’m honest, I don’t choose to see that in other people. Why? Because if I do I’m called by God to treat them in a certain way that maybe I don’t feel like doing. Maybe I would rather make fun of them a little, oh, in a good-natured way of course. Maybe I would rather talk behind their back and point out their insecurities. Maybe I would rather “call a spade a spade”. Maybe I would rather see the person as a thing rather than a glorious being made in the image of God. Because when I see someone as a thing or an entity rather than reflecting the image of God I don’t have to behave in a way that reflects God. I don’t have to treat them kindly, to see their good instead of their annoyances, to see that they have so much to offer. In short, if I do as Christ requires and look at people who are created to reflect the image of God, I cannot treat them like they are anything less. No matter who they are, no matter what I think of them, no matter what my own insecurities that are brought to light by the interactions I have with them, I need to see them through the lens of God’s image.