Loving Your Neighbor
Today I want to share with you a story from my life where I messed up - badly. Several years ago I was working at night on a ride at the Magic Kingdom called the Jungle Cruise. This is a ride where I talk on the microphone and take people on boat tours of the "jungles of the world".
On this particular night I had a nice group of guests, and I did a special tour in order to point out all the secrets and "hidden mickeys" located in the ride. In order to give these people a better view of the ride, I even stopped the boat inside the cavernous temple and backed up the boat at one point. Stopping the boat during the ride is a serious safety violation and I knew it, but I did it anyway because I thought I was too good to be disciplined.
Well, my supervisor found out what I had done and without hesitation gave me a two-point reprimand, the worst reprimand I could get without being fired outright. I was so furious I spent the next two hours in his office arguing with him, using every trick I knew to get him to un-reprimand me. I felt justified in stopping the boat because I was trying to go out of my way to entertain guests, even though I knew I was obligated to follow Disney's safety guidelines. I ended up losing my temper, calling him every name in the book and really making a jerk of myself. I'm surprised he didn't fire me on the spot for insubordination.
In the end I realized it all wasn't worth it. Those guests wouldn't have known the difference if I had done a normal tour, yet I damaged beyond repair a relationship with a really good supervisor- a downright nice person just trying to do his job. I apologized later but the damage had been done. Even to this day our relationship isn't the same. What's worse, it's all my fault and I still regret it.
Now, the same story with a twist:
Imagine that the morning of the day I was to be reprimanded, an angel from heaven came down and told me what was about to happen and how God wanted me to react:
"Nathan, today you will do something stupid and will receive a reprimand. No one is going to remember this reprimand, although you'll feel it important at the time. It will go away and your record will be clear in 9 months from now. But tonight you will be tested on how well you love the person who has to discipline you. God wants you to show love to this person and to pass this test, and use this time of trial and hurt to build something positive for God. Do you think you can do that for me?"
How much easier would it be to love our neighbor if we actually knew the test before it happened! Piece of cake, right? I think I'd pass that test with flying colors, wouldn't you? Once we look at a situation from God's perspective we can see how we really should be acting in every day situations.
You see, it's not whether a painful trial is going to happen to you. it's when ! 1 Peter 4:12 makes this very clear saying: "Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. "
Something for you to think about today and this week:
In the next few days you are very likely going to be tested. Someone is going to do something to you that will test your relationship to them. Maybe tomorrow, maybe this week or maybe in just minutes from now while we're playing the second half of the game. Your job is to love that person even through the adversity and truly demonstrate the love of God to them. You know the test is coming, you just don't know when. Be ready for it. Love everyone as if they are the test. Now that you know it's coming, will you pass?
1 Peter 1:22-23 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.