My mother's admonitions still toll between my ears.
"If everyone is jumping in the fire, are you going to jump with them?"
"Just get on with it and I don't want to hear another word about it."
"You're not too old for your wants to hurt you."
"Put that in your pipe and smoke it."
There were others. Life and its living gave meaning to them, but years passed before I began to live them back, before each gestured through me without thought.
Jesus gave us a few sayings to follow. "So, in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you ..." (Matthew 7:12, NIV). Speaking about the law and the commandment to love God, He said, "And the second, like it, is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31, NKJV).
Most times over the years, I thought these good suggestions, nice when convenient.
I knew what they meant, but overriding my understanding, life's unwritten rule prevailed -- treat me as I want to be treated or treat me as I believe I need to be treated. There, isn't my life better when you treat me as I want to be? I deserve it.
Worse, I inclined to treat others as I thought they needed to be. I thought they deserved it. Of course, the attitude had the effect of raising me and lowering them.
Every encounter was a competition. See, I'm not so nice.
A theologian may comment, but I believe Jesus meant something else. He said, "I'm not going to treat you as you want or think you need to be treated. I'm going to treat you as I treat myself and guess what? I'm telling you to do the same to everyone you meet, including your rivals. I want you to live back my commandment, to gesture love without thought for gain or advantage. Perfect love is where I wish you to go. You may resist, but this is where I'm taking you."
Jesus? Yes, Deck.
It's not going to be like riding in Mom and Dad's station wagon filled with Mom's cigarette smoke and hauled across South Carolina for two-and-a-half hours, is it?
Some days will be just like that. But I promise when you get there, I will give you more than the Hershey bar at Granny's house.
"For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the Sons of God" (Romans 8: 13-14, NKJV).
English writer Augustus J.C. Hare wrote, "Surely, of all the Christian graces, that charity (love), which vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, beareth and endureth all things, is the most hard to attain."
There's a long way to go to live as Christ in my first thought.
"Those who have ears to hear, let them hear" (Matthew 11:15, NKJV).