A physician in imitation of Jesus.

Your son or daughter won’t put down their phone long enough to be part of the family. You want to grab their device and throw it across the room — but, despite the eye rolls, you patiently invite your son or daughter into the conversation, an invitation you will extend again and again and again.

The employee simply is not getting it. He or she is habitually late. Their inability to get on the program is causing frustration that is quickly becoming resentment among the rest of the team. The worst part of it may be that the foundering employee doesn’t seem to understand — or care. It’s your responsibility to do something. You don’t have time to waste on an employee who’s not working out — but you make the time and it turns out that your investment in this struggling employee pays off.

The clerk or sales rep is treating you like a number, not a human being. You’re about to walk out or hang up. You don’t need this — but maybe they do.

We all encounter the rude, the incompetent, the self-centred. They distract us, they embarrass us, and they anger us. We finally reach that point of “enough” and we demand satisfaction, accountability, change.

Or else.

It’s the “or else” part that’s the challenge.

That’s the cost of following Jesus. Yes, they’re not pulling their weight. Yes, their messing up is affecting all of us. Yes, holding them accountable is only just.  But it’s at that moment when Jesus calls us to the work of mercy. To make God’s Kingdom of reconciliation and healing possible often means “sacrifice” on our part: “sacrificing” our self-righteousness, “sacrificing” our need for satisfaction, “sacrificing” our need for control in order to welcome back, to help and lead, to counter rudeness and self-righteousness with patience and respect.

Timothy Keller notes in his book “The Prodigal God”: “Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness.”

The next time we feel the need to be the enforcer, may we be, instead, a physician in imitation of Jesus.