How many nice people do you know? Let me be a little more specific: How many people do you know who you feel at ease with; who are genuine and real; who are warm and thoughtful; who you know care sincerely and consistently about you; who you trust, and who are committed to companionship with you for life?
Perhaps you’re fortunate enough to know a lot of such people. I’ll have to admit, reluctantly, that I could probably count the number of such people I know on one hand, and have a finger or two to spare. If I look back over my life so far, I may be able to employ all my fingers and toes in the count.
I’m not saying this to have a dig at human nature, as easy as that would be. After all, I’m human too (surprise surprise) and I suffer from the same weaknesses and faults that everyone else does. We can all be hurtful at times, or aloof or busy and inconsiderate. Just how do those few “nice people” manage it? How are they nice? What makes them kind, considerate, warm, forgiving, and all those other special endearing qualities which I am deficient in?
If I focus more closely still on what turns me on, socially speaking, I think I would have to single out that amazing ability a very few people have to make you feel welcome, wanted, loved, and appreciated, every time you meet them, even when you know you’re a nobody, and even when you have nothing to offer them in terms of this world’s perks. I can picture a few shining faces, always fixed on mine, so glad were they to see me and let me know so. They were(and are) the people who have made me feel like life was worth living, that there is a loving God, and that the world really is a beautiful place after all.
My next point is unavoidable. As I’ve considered these people prayerfully, I’ve had to ask my God why I’m not like them. Why am I not a nice person? I wish I were. I wish I could have that effect on people. I wish I could be warm, polite, kind and welcoming as a normal standard of being, rather than having to stretch to a minute or two of pleasantness before I lapse back into my normal modus operandi: being distant and preoccupied. And as many professing Christians as I’ve met over the years, I must confess that the bulk of them have been, like me, in various stages of brokenness, selfishness, business, worldliness, and yes, sinfulness. We go to church (in normal times) in the hope of meeting people who are going to reflect the love of Jesus Christ, not realizing that everyone else is doing the same thing.
How many of us rise to the occasion?
The answer must lie in genuinely becoming Christ-like. I don’t mean a fleshly spirituality in which we think we’re just like Peter and Paul and can do all their magic tricks: I mean loving, selfless, warm, patient, faithful, godly behaviour as a way of life.
The few who achieve that level of walk with God in this life will be the ones to shine like stars for ever and ever.