On almost every plane and train that I have been on in the last 4 1/2 months, there has been an open door with the person next to me that led to an opportunity to encourage and many times pray.
On my flight back to the States for Christmas, I was amazed at how people in the airports opened up about the difficult situations they were facing with terminal illness, in either their own lives or a loved one. I was humbled to see how many hurting people are all around us and how easy it is to never see them if we don’t look, or don’t open our mouths to say hello.
In deed, I feel that we are at a moment of great opportunity for these encounters. We have become so isolated and digitized in our communication, that people hunger for real interest and interaction. They long to tell their story and to have someone really listen.
The Incarnation is the miracle of miracles--that the Creator God became flesh and dwelt among men. Yet so often in our own lives we are careless of this gift. We create a castle of personal entertainment or polite small talk to hide behind rather than choosing to be flesh and blood to the people around us. We've forgotten that salt doesn't do any good when it sits on the shelf.
I don't say this in judgment, for I am as guilty as anyone. But, I am desperate for the truth of the Gospel. I simply want to be more like Jesus, and He loves people. He sees people. As He walked this earth, He was among the people. He was so far past a "comfort zone" that He sacrificed His dignity, His popularity, His very life. As He hung naked on a cross, discolored and unrecognizable from abuse, He was so much more than among the people; He was drenched in their sin, their shame, their very stench.
He did all of this not out of self-righteous pity, but because He knew that when He paid the ultimate price, His coming resurrection would mean salvation for the world. Death was swallowed up in His victory, and He bought for us our freedom: righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.
As we go about our day, let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us eyes to see. Let's train our hearts to compassion by our daily choices. Let's look beyond our need to feel good about ourselves and be motivated instead by love and obedience. And let's not be fooled by the lie that says we are being hypocritical if we don't "feel like it." The sweetest and most fruitful encounters usually come when we certainly don't feel like it.
"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:11-13).