As our semester draws to a close, there are seemingly thousands of thoughts buzzing through my mind at all times. One of the main ones is, "Only a few more weeks, then that person is gone for good!"
I know, I know, what a horrible thing to think, much less admit! Believe me, I'm ashamed to own up to it, but stick with me here and you'll see why.
If we were to be honest, how often do we all find ourselves thinking similar thoughts to the one I just stated above? How many times do we brush past a stranger in the hall, indifferent to them entirely or absorbed in our own business? How often is time spent upon others something that we must do and get it over with so we can go on to our next important thing?
How different would it be if we saw each person we interacted with as they truly are?
(This is where I insert an amazing quote from my friend, Jack.)
"There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendors." -C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Instead of viewing people as temporary pests to be endured only for a time, I encourage us all to try to view others as immortal, with whom we will either spend eternity together with in paradise or who will be condemned to hell. Can there be any other response than joy at the one prospect and anything less than absolute horror and pity at the other?
And yet, all too easily we allow finite influences to intrude upon our perceptions of our fellow man. As much as C. S. Lewis's statement applies to all people, the greatest grief comes when Christians allow temporary issues to intrude upon the love and relationships we all share with our fellow believers.
Let me share a real life example (not to condemn the person involved) but to point out how easy it is for all of us to rate the material, mortal things of this earth higher than our immortal brothers and sisters in Christ.
After our choir tour at my university, a group of us were discussing the various home-stays we experienced. A Christian friend of mine (one who by all appearances loves the Lord with her entire heart), upon finding out that some people stayed with a Christian family that didn't believe in recycling, had this to say about those hosts; "I would have refused to talk to them and would have marched straight out that door!"
Personally, I believe that we are to be stewards of the earth, caring for it as per Genesis 2:15. Recycling is certainly a part of that. But allowing anything of this temporary earth, however important, to disrupt one's relationship with a fellow member of Christ's body, with whom we will spend "10,000 years and forever more," cannot be what we are called to.
I can't tell you how often I let pettier things than this get in the way of my relationships with others! Whether it's who gets the last piece of pizza, or if a friend won a scholarship I was hoping for, or simply someone interrupting deep contemplation on my part, I find myself treating this immortal being as less important than whatever it was I wanted.
This earth will pass away (Rev. 21:1.) That car you love is not going to last forever. These university hallways will not be here a thousand yeas from now. But that person, right next to you, with bits of lettuce and bacon dribbling down his or her chin as they sloppily consume that BLT...they will be. It is up to you and me to decide how to treat them here and now.