“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Jesus made it pretty clear that loving God and others is not optional for His followers. Unfortunately, the warnings against “stranger danger” and the pervasive infiltration of technology have The good news is, there are billions of ways to live out these commandments. Here are a few simple suggestions for ways that you can put both into practice.
1. Pull out your ear buds.
Maybe this is just a “generation me” thing, but I often get nervous about interacting with strangers. Instead of risking the awkwardness of others’ rejection (however unlikely), I turn up my music or hide behind my phone. As Christians, we must have an attitude of openness to those around us, even those we don’t know. When we put away distractions in public spaces, we are more prepared to receive our neighbours with love. We also become more open to hearing how God wishes to work through us for the good of others.
2. Say a Prayer for them.
Oftentimes when I’m commuting to school, I feel inspired to pray for people I see. I don’t know anything about them, but I do know that everyone is in need of prayer. I usually pray something like, “God bless this person in front of me. Help them to get to their destination safely, bless their family, and draw them ever closer to Your Most Sacred Heart.” Again, there is a very clear connection between loving God and loving your neighbour.
You may still be working up the courage to strike up a conversation with strangers, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t communicate at all. A smile is the simplest way to show someone that you love them, and that their Heavenly Father delights in their existence. I understand that some people just have a resting grumpy face, myself included (when I’m busing to school at 8am, my face is well on its way to Frown Town). Still, try making the conscious effort to make (brief) eye contact with someone as you pass them, and smile.
4. Say something!
You don’t need to approach strangers and say: “excuse me, sir, do you have a moment to talk about Jesus Christ?” In fact, in most cases, I wouldn’t recommend it. The best way to show someone that God loves them is simply to love them. Remember that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. There are so many ways to say “I love you,” such as: good morning! How are you? I like your hat! Can I help you with_____?
5. Do something!
The last phrase is a great springboard for actually helping someone else. It’s good to wish someone well, but it is even better if you can take the time to actually help them. I myself am guilty of “diffusing responsibility” when I see a stranger in need. I assume that someone else is more qualified, more responsible and more equipped to help said stranger, and therefore I do nothing. As Christians, it is our responsibility to help those around us. Hopefully with prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit, we will be emotionally and spiritually prepared to ditch our pride in favour of serving strangers.
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