What comes to your mind when you think of heaven? What images do you dream up? Cute angels in spotless white robes floating around softly, some cute lil’ cherubs strumming on a tiny harp; their melodious music being the only ‘disturbance’ in this otherwise totally tranquil environment. Is that heaven for you?
Picture God for a minute, if you can. What would He look like? Can you imagine the colour of his eyes? We know He’s got two just like us. What about His smile and laughter? I mean, think about it- what would God’s laughter sound like? (I said think, not rush over to the next paragraph like you’re about to. There. Caught you)
Now wherever you are, please take your eyes off the screen for just a sec and look at the first person your eyes meet (if you’re reading this immediately, then you haven’t done what I asked- look at the first person your eyes fall on. Good). Who did you see? A colleague in your workplace? A classmate? A parent, friend, sibling or a random stranger close-by? If you’re reading this somewhere all alone, think of the first person that comes to mind- anyone.
But permit me to ask you this- did you see God in that person? Strange question, right? See, many times, we ‘reach out’ to God, expressing our love and passion for him; how we want to know him, and please him and hear his voice always. It’s convenient to love someone you’ve never seen, right? But do you know that in every living man, there’s a part that came from God?
How would you treat God if he sat by you on a bus, or if you ran into him in a crowded banking hall or ATM outlet with those annoyingly long queues? Think about how exactly you’d relate with him if you bumped into him (or better yet, He bumped into you) in rush hour traffic in a busy market area, almost knocking over that polythene bag housing your beloved agbalumo*? How would the conversation go?
My challenge to you today is to look at every person you meet with this understanding- how I treat this fellow reflects on how much I really know and value God. It’s impossible to truly love God and not love people- including the seemingly ‘unlovables’. When we treat people with respect, honour and courtesy, we prove our spiritual maturity. Beyond the heavy tongues, the cute Sunday dresses and the impressive spiritual vocabs we share on social media, the acid test of who we really are is the depth of our love, not just for those who love us in return, but for everyone else.
In closing, I’ll leave you with this beautiful line from St. Francis Du Sales:
“We must never undervalue any person. The workman love not to have his work despised in his presence. Now GOD is present everywhere and every person is his work”
Every time I think about this, one prayer shoots up from my heart: Lord, help me to love like you.
Love God by loving people.
I love you.
*agbalumo- a popular fruit in Nigeria with a unique sour-sweet taste