“This is how all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
We took our kids to Disney World for the first time last week. My husband and I decided to keep it all a surprise. For the “big reveal,” we put Disney Dollars in their breakfast boxes that they opened, bleary eyed, at 4:30 a.m. on the car ride to the bus that would take us to the airport.
We were certain that when they figured out the surprise, their reaction would be extreme excitement. We wanted them to be able to express that in the privacy of our mini-van, rather than having to stifle it on the bus with sleeping strangers. Sure enough, there were plenty of screams and shouts. It was so fun!
That day’s itinerary included a car ride, a bus, two flights with a long lay-over in between, a tram ride, and then an hour-and-a-half car ride to our hotel. It was going to be like the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles,” except with three young kids who were so hyped up with excitement, I’d have to be reining them in and reprimanding them all day. I imagined apologizing to others for twelve straight hours as my kids exhibited inappropriate behavior from a mix of exhaustion and exhilaration.
My kids were so grateful for all my husband and I had done for them, and the money we were spending, that they rose above. They were amazing: helpful, thankful, respectful, and kind to each other. My heart swelled with pride when the stewardess made a point of stopping me on the way out of the second airplane to say how well behaved my kids were. I was as proud as a peacock!
When I read this scripture passage the next morning, it had me reflecting on our long day of travel the day before. I thought it easily could have been rewritten into a mother’s motto for her kids: “This is how all will know that you are my kids, if you behave in public and help one another.” It got me wondering if my Heavenly Father thinks I’m subscribing to this motto myself.
Are my actions casting a positive light on my faith and on Him? Jesus may be the foundation of our Church, but we the people are the walls and ceiling. How we behave in public determines whether people are drawn to walk through those doors, or pass right by.
They say “word of mouth” is the best advertisement. However, when it comes to faith, I think it is our actions that speak the loudest. If our actions are contradictory to what we say we believe, we are promoting hypocrisy. There is nothing that repels people faster.
On the other hand, if others witness us doing the right thing, despite difficult circumstances, we become an invitation. People are drawn to the mom who has patience with her kids, despite sleep deprivation and temper tantrums. People admire the busy person who still steps up to help someone in need, as if they were helping Jesus Himself. People want to possess the same peace that the prayerful person has who can accept setbacks and hardships with grace and a deep trust in God. This is the discipleship we are all called to live.
That stewardess’ compliment about my kids will stay with me for a long time. I’ll revisit it on those days when they are misbehaving and I do have to apologize for their behavior (I’m not naive enough to think there still won’t be plenty more of those days ahead). Compliments do mean a lot to me.
But the compliment I’m in pursuit of most is one that only God can give. I yearn to respond fully to the call of true discipleship, the discipleship where I am furthering Jesus’ work here on earth by what I do and how I live. What motivates me to keep trying to overcome my own flaws and limitations to do so is the desire to hear God say Matthew 3:17 to me, “With you I am well pleased.”
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