Traveling these days can be quite a hassle, particularly flying. You have the hassle of enduring long lines just to check in, and then deal with the same long lines to get through security. Then there’s the boarding process and all the bumping and shoving, and evading the oversized backpack that nearly smacks you in the face as its owner stumbles obliviously down the aisle. But after all of that, once you actually get settled in your seat, the actual flight can be quite enjoyable.
When looking down below on prairie land or hills and mountains, everything appears serene and picturesque, even perfect from that vantage point. But when viewing things from a distance, looks can be deceiving. Once the plane lands and you see everything up close, all the imperfections – the traffic, the garbage and the misery of the world is plainly observed. Several years ago, there was a popular song that highlighted the contradiction between appearances and reality, from a distance.
And so it is with people. We see them from a distance – their demeanor, their fame and fortune and their lifestyle. From a distance, they appear to have it all together, and we secretly wish, sometimes, that we could be that person or that we could be like them. Were we to get closer to them, we might find that our perception would be quite different. You see, “all that glitters is not gold.” Were we in a relationship with some of these people, we might find that their lives, though appearing peaceful on the outside, is full of turmoil. We might see the fear, the anguish, the hurt and sense of inferiority they live with each and every day.
The point is, first of all: don’t ever wish to be the other guy or to be like the other guy, because you may just get your wish. Secondly: if we’re truly going to help people, which is what we’re commanded to do, then we’re truly going to have to get closer to people. We’re instructed to make disciples, not converts. Not every woman who gives birth to a child is a mother because, many times – and especially in our day and time – these women will dump those children on someone else’s doorstep for them to take care of. Perhaps, they decided it was just too inconvenient to be a mother. Likewise, making converts rather than making disciples is quite similar. Just go get them saved and then move on and leave them for someone else to take care of is not how it should be. Making disciples is very similar to being a parent, because it requires patience, tenacity, strength, perseverance, and most of all, brotherly love. To disciple someone requires a brotherly love that is able to look beyond that person’s weaknesses.
It’s so much easier to deal with people at a distance because, from that vantage point, their lives seems to be okay. That way is never going to be adequate when compared to what the Messiah charged us to – go into the world and make disciples. And once again, we see that to follow and obey Christ means we must be willing to die to ourselves for the sake of others.
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” (John 15:12-14)
If we are going to love one another as He loved us, then we must be willing to lay down our life, not necessarily in a physical way, but certainly to those things that are important to us in deference to the needs of others. We will be required to lay down our desires and fulfill His – make disciples.