My wife and I are really into learning how to love each other and our kids better. We tal about what makes us feel loved and we make a real effort to do those things they want us to do instead of what we would want them to do for us. While I'm still miles from any form of consistency, much less perfection, I can already see the positive effects when the effort is made.
I may write more about that another day but for now I want to point out that our three-year-old says there are five members in our family while I say there are only four. She counts the cat and I do not.
Why? I've never really liked the cat.
I don't treat the cat the way I treat my wife and kids, which is obvious and natural I suppose, but I rarely make an effort to be nice to her. I feed her and change her litter box but that's about all the interaction I'm interested in. Sometimes it crosses my mind that I could be a little more charitable toward the creature but I quickly dismiss it because, well, she's just a cat.
It occurred to me tonight that maybe that's not quite the right attitude. Here I am trying to follow Christ's example by attempting to love my family better but then in this one relationship I make zero effort to show affection. Is that the way of a Christian?Is it good enough to love the ones you want to love and ignore the rest? I realize she's “just a cat” but isn't the reality that there is a place where I actively avoid following Christ's example? If I think about it I'm sure I can think of plenty of people I bump into on a daily basis that I treat the same way; with indifference instead of love.
Being Christian is tough. We're called to be consistent. We are called to conform to Christ 100%. This is certainly a process but that goal of perfect conformity will never arrive as long as we allow parts of our lives not to conform. As long as we accept some of our failings it doesn't matter much how well we conform in other areas. Is it enough to say I loved my family well if I neglected a stranger? Is it enough to say I lived a spiritual life if I refuse to forgive? We are called to conform our entire self; if I conform those parts I want to or that I find easiest but neglect the rest; will I ever be truly conformed?
This reminds me of the rich man in Luke 18 who did everything right. He wanted to follow Jesus but he just loved his riches too much to give them up. There was only one thing left for him to conform but he went away sad. I want to follow Jesus, but how can I if I can't even be nice to a cat?