How to Smell Like a Christian
One of my less than favorite things on this planet is when another Christian marches up to me and barks “So, are you a Christian?”. I then face a dilemma. If I tell the truth and say “Yes” I will be associating myself with them, something I may or may not want to do. Also, I will then have to follow up by answering a series of proof questions, possibly in a dark room with a bright light shining in my face, about date, time, and exact beliefs. However, if I lie and say “No” I will have to look at that hungry glitter in their eyes while they treat me as either prey or a project for the next few minutes. Hours. Years. Also I don’t lie well so I usually just go with “Yes”. But what I WANT to say is this. “You seem like the kind of person who has read John 13:35. (I totally had to Google the address. I can never remember the numbers that go along with Bible verses.) We will know each other by our love. Do I smell like love to you?”
I always wonder what would happen if I actually said this. Mostly, because people who bark at you rarely smell like love. Sometimes I think that there are maybe five Christians in this country that truly smell like love. I can’t tell you how many times I have been horribly embarrassed by someone crucifying others in the name of Jesus. It wasn’t a good idea in 1095 and it isn’t a good idea today.
The one thing Jesus seemed to really want us to do, both then and today, was to love people. It’s easier than you think, even if you’re not a Christian. Actually, experience has taught me that it seems to be easier for non-Christians. The first thing you have to understand is that love is not a feeling, it is a choice. I first heard this when I was in the 9th grade. I was pretty sure it was a lie. I for sure loved Rod Hayworth and it was in no way a choice. It had everything to do with his baby blue eyes and killer sense of humor and nothing to do my decision making skills. Right? Wrong. I felt a lot of things for that boy, most of them probably had to do with my hormones, and the fact that he was kind and good looking. Don’t worry, I hadn’t met The Pastor yet and The Pastor is well aware that I may have had crushes on boys in the 9th grade. Love is a choice. It is a choice involving how we treat people, how we talk to people, and even how we think about people. A lot of Christians kind of suck at love. I am one of them. It is something I have worked on for a long time and I thought I would share with you my ideas of what love smells like, so maybe we can smell a little bit more like Christians.
Love is at least polite. If you can’t at least be polite to people, this is a good place to start. Especially with the people you are supposed to love. I am amazed at how many people I see being rude to their spouses. The one person you are supposed to at least show some manners toward! This is simple. It involves occasionally smiling at people, using words like “please” and “thank you”, and saying “hi” before vomiting your problems all over someone. If you can do these simple things you smell a lot more like love than the majority of people. Way to go!
Love makes excuses. When The Pastor and I are in the car and see someone driving like a maniac, we play a little game. We try to think of all the reasons the person may be doing this. Maybe his wife is having a baby. Maybe his mother is dying. Maybe he is going to rescue someone! Maybe he is an Illinois tourist. You quickly stop feeling offended when you think about these things. Also it’s a good way to pass the time. So, when the UPS driver is late, when the waiter gets your order wrong, when your own mother calls you by the wrong name, don’t assume the person is trying to offend you personally. Try to figure out a situation where their behavior makes sense.
Love does not gossip. WHAT?!? Snarky, say it ain’t so! If there is one thing we Christians are the absolute BEST at it’s gossip! No. I’m sorry. There is absolutely no way to lovingly gossip. If you are talking about someone who is not in the room, and saying anything other than how great they are, you are gossiping. EVEN IF you disguise it in the costume of a prayer request. ESPECIALLY if you disguise it as a prayer request. You know what? Let’s all just start telling ourselves that every time we disguise gossip as a prayer request an angel loses it’s wings.
Love does not ask for proof. If you are requiring people to prove their love to you, you have issues and need a therapist. If someone requires you to prove your love to them, they have issues and need a therapist. Listen up, young ladies. YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE IN A RELATIONSHIP WITH SOMEONE WHO NEEDS PROOF THAT YOU LOVE THEM. God does not ask us to prove our love. We should not ask each other to prove it either. Along the same lines, if someone is asking you to prove how Christian you are, what they are really asking for is proof that you love God. If God doesn’t ask for this, it’s really kind of sick to ask it of each other. Now don’t get too carried away with this. You may need proof that you can trust someone with your children. An employer may need proof that you are reliable. I certainly need proof that a Snickers bar is not a healthy meal. No one needs to prove that they love you.
Love is helpful. Helpful goes above and beyond being polite. Helpful is doing nice things for people who need a hand. That part is pretty easy. It feels good to help people. Knowing you made someone’s life a little bit easier is a good feeling. There is a hard part. We even need to help people we don’t like very much. “Ugh! That is hard! It’s hard enough to be polite to people we don’t like, but to be helpful towards them? Next thing you know you’ll be telling us that we should help people who got themselves into their own mess!” Yes. Especially all of those people. Mostly because those are the people who need help the most.
Love is fun. Okay, so love isn’t always fun, but part of loving other people is being fun for them to be around. This covers a lot of things that I don’t have time to type about. Things like not complaining all the time, finding out about people other than yourself, laughing WITH people instead of at them all the time, and indulging others. Kick up your heels and do something unexpected. Throw caution to the wind and eat some ice cream. Just enjoy the life you were given and help others to enjoy theirs! Then, when someone barks the “Are you a Christian” question at you, you can respond with “Well, I sure smell like one!”
Love is writing a snarky blog. I made that one up. Love is not writing a blog. Love is SHARING a snarky blog. With all of your friends. Try it. You’ll see. 🙂