And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)
If you suddenly found yourself in Christ’s presence, how would you treat Him?
Would you humbly fall down before Him and offer thanks to your Lord? Would you embrace Him as Savior or as Brother? Would you be so stunned as to just gratefully admire Him? Would you offer to serve Him? Would you rejoice in His presence? or just take hold of Him and never let Him go?
St Paul tells us that we should treat each person we encounter as if they were Christ. We should do to them as we would to Christ – from our hearts with sincere love, treating them as if they were the Lord Jesus. Paul’s advice certainly would be in agreement with Christ’s parable of the Last Judgment in Matthew 25: 31-46. And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
If everything we did was in the spirit of “as if we were doing it to our Lord Jesus Christ”, imagine how different our relationships would be with everyone. We then indeed would be acting toward each person as if they were created in the image and likeness of God. We would each be very changed people (Repent!) if we did this. Of course, this would not guarantee how others might react to us, and we shouldn’t love others just to manipulate them. We should treat others in love, as if they were Christ, no matter how they react to us. (I’m talking here about ‘normal’ healthy relationships, not one in which one is being abused by the other). We have an idea what Christ might mean when He tells us to “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2) – repent is to change one’s heart mind. This is exactly what would happen in each of us if we treated others as if we were dealing with Christ.
A brother asked Abba Poemen, “Which is better: to speak or to keep silent?” The old man said to him, “He who speaks for God’s sake is a good man, and he does well, and he who holds his peace for God’s sake does well.” (Adapted from The Paradise or Garden of the Holy Fathers (Volume 2), Kindle Loc. 3511-12)
The issue isn’t so much whether or not to speak (or do some action or not do it). The issue is to do all for the sake of God, to treat each person we meet as if they were Christ. If we stop reacting to the people around us, and instead act toward them as if they were Christ, we would be acting in love. If we treated them, not as they deserve (whether good or evil), but as if they were Christ, we would be making God’s Kingdom present on earth. “… whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).