Small choices are the building blocks of character formation. Being like Jesus is usually formed in little things that at the time might not seem significant. A choice to use kindness in place of trying to win, or the decision to share, rather than hoard, are the things that cause us to look like him. These are small pieces, but they are coming together to make us like Jesus.
We think of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross as what defines him, and I do not mean to minimize it in any fashion. However, if you spoke to the man born blind from John 8, or the widow of Nain, or the lepers who stood healed and whole after their encounter with Jesus, they might have a different answer.
The cross has meaning because of two factors. The first is the resurrection that followed it. Thousands of people have been crucified, only one has been raised from that death.
The second is equally important. The cross has meaning because of the life that was lived before it. The selflessness, the compassion, the willingness to help and restore in the face of judging eyes and whispering lips; these are the characteristics that separated Jesus from the crowd.
I can’t imagine the throngs of people as the message went out before him… Jesus is coming this way! The hope that it must have been elicited in the hearts of parents with sick children, and spouses of those who were infirmed is indescribable. Jesus is coming and with him comes hope.
But, what if Jesus, with all of his capacity to touch lives, had been unwilling to engage others? What if he turned away from the ugliness of illness or the despair of death? How would the gospel story read without words like “moved with compassion” or stories of his stopping to help while on his way to another place?
Jesus made small choices that were enormous in the lives of the individuals he influenced. Choices that we might not have considered important in the moment.
You will make some choices this week as well. Someone with holes in their shoes not asking for help but needing it. Someone with a coat that is too small, or a heart that is too heavy. Turn away, focus elsewhere, or continue on your path without further thought? If those are your little choices, the result will never look like Jesus. All we have to do is choose.