Have you ever been in a waiting room too long? I’m sure you have. You’re sitting at the doctor’s office, and now the room is filled with other people like you doing the same thing...waiting. Before long, someone sparks a conversation and you get to decide will you engage or will you keep staring at your phone. We all know the phone is the easy road, but is it the best?
This is why Jesus said, So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. John 13:34 (NLT)
With this verse in mind, what if we engaged the culture around us through the eyes of love? Could we see what Christ sees? Since we’re so connected to our devices, we often miss the person next to us. This is why we need people of faith in every area of culture to live out the love of Jesus.
Jesus shared His life with others. He ate with them. He shared stories with them. But more than this, He noticed them right where they were and then pointed them to a better way of life.
We see this in countless examples, like the moment the woman with an issue of blood touched the hem of His garment. While it might be unclear what the nature of her issue was, one thing was clear, she was unclean according to Mosaic Law. Despite this, Jesus turned around, faced her, and spoke peace to her, completely changing things. Physically she was well, mentally she was set free, and socially she was accepted. He gave her hope and future that she never thought was possible. How might Jesus want us to share our lives so that He can point them to a better life?
Loving our neighbor is building a bridge from our heart to theirs, and then believing that one day, Jesus will walk over it.
Let’s look at a few ways we can do just that.
Set the Tone
We can bring a vibe to the environment we are in that encourages conversation. People will notice the joy you bring to the lunch table or the kind tone in your voice. Setting the right tone opens the doors for others to welcome you into their space. This creates a starting point.
Build on Common Ground
This gives us connection points. People are generally more open to hear you out when you affirm the things that you’ve got in common. We can find these connections by listening. Like Jesus, we can listen for emotions, ideas, and implications and discern how we can point them to our living hope.
Listen for the Moment
As we saw earlier, in the middle of a crowd, Jesus turned and faced the woman who touched His garment. He noticed her and spoke to her. These were His words. “Daughter, be encouraged! Your faith has made you well.” And the woman was healed at that moment. (Matthew 9:22)
This woman knew who Jesus was. She knew He was a miracle worker. This caused her to listen intently when He spoke life-giving words in that divine moment. So once a conversation is established, embrace the moment and listen for the opportunity to share life-giving words from the heart of Jesus.
Theologian David Augsburger says, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable.”
Let’s engage with our neighbors, whether it’s in a waiting room or in a Starbucks’ line. Let love be our anthem. It’s a holy ambition. Remember, if we build a bridge to our neighbor, then Jesus may one day walk over it.