In Dr. Elnes’ sermon this week, he retold the story of some car mechanics back in Phoenix, Simba’s Automotive. If you haven’t heard the story, ask him about it. I’ve heard it before, and I love it. I’m about to ruin the end of it for you, feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph. Simba’s Automotive is thoroughly successful and has actually grown quite a bit. When you ask the two owners and mechanics how they have so success, the Muslim brothers will tell you, “We treat every car as if Mohammed himself is driving away in it.”

What a great plan.

Then Dr. Elnes spoke of a stockbroker he knows who treats every client as if they were Jesus. He doesn’t preach the gospel, he doesn’t demand they are Christian. If a modern day Jesus walked in and handed the stockbroker his (or her) money, he’d simply take care of him (or her).

Again, another great plan.

But what if the person you are treating like Jesus isn’t acting like Jesus? And then what if over and over and over and over and over (y’all get it?) you get taken advantage of the assumed Jesus? If you’re repeatedly reminded that the person you’re dealing with is indeed NOT Jesus. What if Not-Jesus is miserable, disrespectful, unkind, toxic person who cares not to change, improve.

If this person were to continually return to Simba’s Automotive begging for just one more fix on his car, and he can’t pay right now, but he will later. Would Simba’s do it? If the Not-Jesus guy continued to return asking for free work, and then maybe could they fill up the car this time and deep clean the seats. And then Not-Jesus takes his newly cleaned and fixed car and bad mouths Simba’s to all his pals.

Where in the Bible, or in basic humanity, am I allotted to just let someone like that go? Clearly I’m struggling to maintain a very toxic relationship. I’m not really struggling with it so much as I need validation for my choices to rid myself of toxic people.

I struggle because I know it’s not right to necessarily only hang out with only like-minded people. I mean, there’s a chance that I’ve got it all wrong and this Not-Jesus guy has it all right. Who am I to judge? Right? So, I go back and give it another go, and my heart gets broken all over again.

I kinda envy Amos. The whole book is in the Bible for God’s sake (quite literally). His preaching made it to the big show! But I wander how successful he felt at the time. How many people gathered around and actually listened. Took heed. Changed their lives, told him thank you. And how many defensively wrote him off like a crazy guy.

Rather than treat people like Jesus, I try to go another route. I try to treat each situation and relationship as if I can explain it to my kids. If it doesn’t teach my kids a lesson, make them proud of me, or make them laugh, or if I can’t honestly tell my kids what happened, I pretty much don’t do it.

And so, unless otherwise notified (I’m open to suggestions), I’m going to stick with that. Because when I explained my current situation with the repeat not-Jesus to my kids, their response was impeccable, “So, why do you keep hanging out with that person.”

It extended a conversation. But it’s amazing how a 10-year-old can put it all into perspective.

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