A short, somewhat fictitious story about coffee with Jesus.
“Hey Jesus, sorry I’m a little late. Thanks for waiting for me!”
Jesus smiled. “You know me better than that, Vinnie. I’ll never leave you.”
Vinnie laughed, somewhat nervously, as he picked up his grande double cupped americano with coconut milk. “Yeah. I know. You’ve always been there for me. So…have you been seeing all the stuff on social media lately?”
“Does the word Omniscient ring a bell?” Jesus replied, as he sipped His ice water.
“Oh yeah. Sometimes I forget that. So, what do you think about it all? I mean, things seem divided more than ever – and definitely not getting better. Do you have any thoughts on what we should do?”
Jesus nodded, “I think I have some ideas.”
Leaning in, Vinnie asked, “…And?”
“Well, they aren’t really new ideas. In fact they have been around for a while. A long time, actually. Some of them have shaped peoples lives as they embraced them and lived them out. Others, however, have seen them more like…”
“More like, what?” Vinnie said, hanging on every Word.
“More like recommendations, instead of commands. It’s almost as people think I didn’t want things to be taken literally.“
Vinnie was locked in now trying to think about what Jesus meant. Had he been guilty of overlooking what Jesus had actually intended?
Jesus continued, “Take for instance that whole ‘Love your neighbor as yourself‘ thing. I wasn’t joking. I meant it – literally.”
“Well, I do say ‘Hello’ to Rick and Susan as they arrive home. That is loving them, right?”
“Sure.” Jesus said. “But what about the people that you overlook as your neighbor? The people near you, who need you to be a neighbor to them. The people you come in contact with – yes, even the people that you interact with online. Are they not also your neighbor?”
Vinnie, squirming a bit, “Well, you never really got specific with who is my neighbor, right?”
“I’ll text you a bible story you should read. A guy asked me the same thing once upon a time…”
Jesus continued, “What would it look like to love your enemies? It is easy to love those who love you back. It is easy to agree with those who agree with you. It is easy to have opinions from a distance. Do you think the idea of loving your enemies is a nice idea, or a literal command?”
Vinnie had no response.
“I talked with those who no one else would talk to. The people who would never be allowed in the religious circle, I sat at a table and ate a meal with them – and ended up being called a glutton and a drunkard. And by the way, it was totally worth it. Instead of telling and embracing a story about others from a safe distance, I pressed in to see them as people. Real people. Bearing the same Image of God that you do. The same people that I came with an assignment to rescue and redeem. The same people that I have called you to love, serve and pray for.”
“But Jesus, don’t I have a responsibility to remind them that they are wrong and we are right?” Vinnie protested.
“It seems like I gave the responsibility to the Holy Spirit to bring conviction. And from what I have seen, the Holy Spirit is good at being the Holy Spirit. Besides, don’t you think that truth is always best received through relationship? It will always be hard to love someone when your primary concern is with being right.”
Jesus smiled graciously, as He leaned back and took another sip of His water.
Vinnie sat quiet for a moment. “Well, what are You asking me to do?”