He unfolded his long body from the seat in front of me on the regional jet. We gathered our belongings and began the wait for the doors to open, the bridge to attach, the all clear to be given and the deplaning to begin. Standing behind him in the aisle, I noticed his reading material: a book with the bold title, Be Like Jesus.
Hmmmm. Gazing at the back of his head as we queued, I marveled at his choice. So “out there” before the others on the plane. He hadn’t even bothered to shield the title from observing eyes. Surely, a rabid disciple rushing toward character formation. Wow, gutsy. I had to admire such zeal.
Down the jet way, we waited again before a folding door, this one to provide access to our gate-checked bags. We formed a hodgepodge of humanity. A woman whose body bent into a question mark by age. A teen, ear buds attached to her phone. A cadre of business folks, men and women road-weary and ready to strip off their gear at the next hotel. And the Jesus Wannabe Dude, the book still cover-out against his chest. My eyes scanned his face for some clue as to what motivated such devotion.
The cargo door opened and people rustled forward, politely nudging each other and then stepping back, forming a queue before the trolley of bags.
Except for the Jesus Wannabe Dude. He bolted straight to the front, grabbed his bag before anyone else could even identify theirs and shouldered his way through the waiting crowd down the rest of the jet bridge. First-place winner.
My. Be like Jesus. Indeed.
As I waited my turn, spied my blue spinner and wrestled its weight to my side, I found myself harrumphing cynically. Be like Jesus? Selfishly wedging his way to be first out of the gate? No way. Rather, he seemed rude, arrogant, even narcissistic.
My mind whirred down this track as I muscled my own way through the mob in the regional wing where there was never enough room to maneuver. Be like Jesus. Be like Jesus. Be like Jesus? I was disgusted by my “brother,” who so horrifically misrepresented Christ.
As life would have it, I found him waiting for the airport tram as I belatedly joined him on the platform. My inner eyes rolled in disbelief as I spotted him and resentment rose within. The book was still cover-out, now under his arm. Be like Jesus. Who did this guy think he was?
Be like Jesus. This time the words elbowed my own heart.
Be like Jesus, Elisa. Be like Me. Don’t judge. Perhaps your brother is desperate to embrace his wife at the hospital before surgery. Maybe he’s just been diagnosed with a disorder himself and his mind is on the long journey ahead of him. Consider for a moment what pain he might be carrying, what wound he might be navigating, what debt he could be shouldering. Or maybe this man is not yet your brother at all but is rather a sojourner, seeking what hope and love he might have yet to discover in the Son that God gave the world. “Be like Jesus” may be an entry yet to be discovered in his world.
What might this child of mine experience in your presence, observe in your countenance, perceive in your eyes?
Be like Jesus, dear daughter of Mine. Be like Me.
The train doors opened and we boarded, side by side, my eyes still glued to very book and its title that had first caught my attention. The words took on a whole new meaning for me: Be like Jesus.
Suggested resource: She Did What She Could by Elisa Morgan