John 10:14-15 I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep and they know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. I give up my life for the sheep.
Leviticus 19:18 You must not take revenge nor hold a grudge against any of your people; instead, you must love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
Christ came for us. Not because it was deserved. Not because it was in his best interest. He came because He loved us. It was not for self when He laid down His life for His sheep. He gave us this deep grace. He offers it to us freely. Grace so surprising, so amazing, so abounding- that is leaves me speechless. Words fail when we try to express this ridiculously extravagant love that God shows us.
To quote Brennan Manning in The Furious Longing of God, “Are we responding to the love of Jesus living within us concretely and consistently in our love for one another?” This is really the heart of common courtesy- showing the love and grace that we have received.
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.
We first come to this amazing realization that God loves us. For some, that takes a lot of faith. And for some, we accept what is around it, and don’t really bury that truth in our soul. God loves me. God love ME. GOD LOVES ME!!! Some may need to tattoo that truth on their forehead to embed it into their heart. God loves me. He does. He died so that I can be with Him in eternity and not separated by death. He loves me. We accept that truth, we accept the grace He offers, then what? Then we share this grace with others! That truth that God loves me, then we start to see the truth that God love you. And you. And you. So we start treating one another, not as miserable, faulty little creatures, but as God’s loves. We accept that we were created in His image, then look around us and find others created in His image.
We see it in the lives of the apostles, the lives of the saints, the lives of missionaries- this denying of ourselves and living for others. And we think, “I can’t do that!” But we can! We can! God is in the small things. God is in us. We can show those that haven’t felt the love of God deep in their souls the love of God! We can be mirrors reflecting His grace!
We like to bottle up and act like this grace we’ve been given is about us. It is all internal works. Outwardness doesn’t matter. After all, we can’t all be saints. But here is the thing, we will all be saints. “But my life doesn’t look like a saint’s!” God is making us all into new creatures. Who I was five years ago is not who I am now? Was I not a Christian then? Of course I was! But as I press onward, I find myself more and more conformed to this cross I press against.
I’m going to share with you a small excerpt from Dennis Kinlaw’s book, The Mind of Christ. In discussing Helen Roseveare’s call the Africa and her frustration in doing things she felt she wasn’t called to do, “At that moment, she realized God had not sent her to Africa to be a surgeon; He had sent her there to show the love of Christ. What did she deserve? Merely an opportunity to show the love of Christ. And she could not do that if she got what she thought she deserved.”
Maybe you don’t have some big calling, like going to Africa to be a surgeon. Maybe you do. Maybe you will. But however big or small you think your calling might be, you are called to be Christ in this world. You are called to be a servant to your fellow man. You are called to embrace those Christ would embrace. To take this grace and love deep into the darkness and light little fires in people’s souls.
How can common courtesy do such a thing? How can simply saying, “Hello. How are you?” really do anything? It is a simple act of love. One we don’t see often anymore. The extending to someone that you see them and they have value. “With great power comes great responsibility.” Oh, wait. That is Spiderman. Well, same thing applies. You are the recipient of this great overwhelming love and grace from Christ. What will you do with it?