“Avoiding those who like you”— from “The Adventures of the Boy Jesus”
Jesus began gradually to see that Abba was leading him toward an entirely new notion of what life was all about. The simplest way to put it was to reverse every thought he had about who to like, who to care about and what to do in any situation.
He was apparently to focus his liking on beggars, borrowers and others on the losing side of life.
Should Jesus become a literal doormat? Let anyone walk over him? Be so passive as to drive people crazy?
That’s not me, Jesus told himself.
He assumed a more and more common posture. His head and arms and upper body with a subtle contortion conveyed confusion. Abba was perplexing him.
“Give to beggars.”
That might make sense. But where was the stopping point? How much? Take all comers? If Jesus was to go out with nothing, there would be nothing to give. Was he exempt from what he was telling others to do?
“Lend. Don’t expect any return.”
The same thing, Jesus thought.
“Treat people as you want to be treated. As you want them to do to you.”
“Abba, I am lost,” Jesus said. He shook his head. His hair was longer now. It almost hid his face.
“Jesus, slow down,” Abba answered evenly. “What I say is right, but it must be understood. Remember justice. Remember truth. Consider beauty.”
“I don’t see how giving money to a beggar can change things.”
“It can and it cannot,” Abba answered. “It is a word to the wealthy. It’s what the wealthy should do. Sharing wealth is the heart of justice, Jesus. Sharing is truth. Beauty too.”
At the end of the conversation Jesus realized at least one meaning of it.
“What is your reward, Jesus, if you love only those who love you?”
“Yes. Your satisfaction. Your pleasure. Your sense of accomplishment. We are talking about widening a circle of love, Jesus. Until it is fully grown. That is heaven, Jesus.”
Jesus thought. Do everything against your instinct. You give to those who may hate you. It is a contest. A game. Avoiding those who like us. Seeking out those who don’t.
Jesus shook his head intermittently all the way home.