I was talking to a friend this week about Jesus.
She was talking about the pictures we have of Jesus.
Jesus as radical, scolding the people in power. Jesus as Mr Rogers, being comforting to everyone.
She said, “We’d love to have Mr Rogers as our neighbor, but that’s not exactly who Jesus is.”
I said, “I’m not sure I’d like Jesus as my neighbor.”
We laughed, and then she asked me why. And I explained that Jesus would be the kind of neighbor who would want to borrow my tools and then would ask me to take them to the job site, and then would want me to stay and help put a new window in.
And never mind that Jesus was holding the window frame still while I’m making it level, and that Jesus was baking brownies to eat.
I explained that Jesus would be the kind of neighbor that would ask me for a ride to Meijer to get a few things. And then he would keep putting things in my cart. Every time I took an item, he would grab a second one of the same thing, sometimes two or three. And when I checked out, I was the one paying.
But then, as we walked to the car, and I was fussing a little, the way that you do with pushy neighbors, I remember that there is a foodbank that needs food. Because there are people who need to eat, babies who need diapers. And I remember the way that my job appeared because of a friend who said, “you could do this.”
You see, when we read the words of James, talking about his older half-brother Jesus, he’s inviting us to consider that we aren’t the best neighbors, either.
We like some people better than others.
And, James suggests, we do that because of what they can do for us.