The following post is written by mercy ink contributing writer Lauren Arbogast
Have you ever met someone like Jess?
Over eager to please;
begging and pleading with requests;
wearing out her welcome;
at times, quite annoying to be honest.
Time and time again you get your feathers ruffled by the illogical persistence of her requests. You brace yourself and set your back when she comes around, ready to fend her off with a dismissive sweep. Time? No, I don’t have time. Her whole demeanor screams “pay attention to me” whether she wants it to or not – it’s just who she is.
She may not be your enemy, but by golly, she doesn’t rank with those you prefer to keep company with. You’d much rather devote your attention to someone you deem worthy.
What defines worthiness? Is it the opposite of Jess?
Floats through life; unaware; silent; lazy; distant; unreliable; possibly likable
Now, that doesn’t sound any better than Jess. In fact, it makes me turn my nose a bit.
So if worthiness is not Jess, and it is not her opposite, where is our middle ground? Where is the utopia where all magical people never rub one another the wrong way and pleasantries abound (but of course not until annoyance)?
Have you ever thought that it’s not possible?
Not humanly at least.
In Matthew 5, Jesus gives some key points on people we don’t want to associate with – enemies, people we don’t trust, people who ‘do us wrong,’ and our “Jess.”
43-48“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (The Message)
And here’s where I swallow my pride and take one for the team, asking God to cleanse me in a way only he can. Do I expect a bonus for inviting my friends to a cookout, or do I go the extra (required) mile and invite those outside my “prestigious” circle? Do I jump over the hump of awkwardness and extend a hand to someone who has wronged me? Do I risk mockery and trial because I know that I have been accepted – so I risk accepting as well?
Lord help me.
Oh, and by the way, my literal Jess is my ever faithful, butterfly-chasing, invisible-stick-and-ball-obsessed Border Collie. By golly she can be annoying. I do have humans that fall into my “Jess” category, don’t you worry – I’m right there with you.
But my Jess makes such a good illustration.
photo credit: Elizabeth Heavener
Inspired by Matthew 5, a revival sermon by Roger Dove, and all the Jess’ in my life.