I previously shared that I recently started divinity school. One of the required classes is on evangelism. I felt heavily convicted by a teaching in the first week about paying attention to the people around you.
The Biblical text we discussed is about the woman at the well. The overall focus was that Jesus noticed her. He went somewhere that Jews didn’t go (Samaria) and talked to a woman who Jews didn’t talk with (a woman of ill repute). Not only did he talk to her, but he saw her. He looked her in the eye and even suggested they share the same cup, hence her comment about Jesus having nothing to draw water with – they would have had to share her bucket to share a drink. Meanwhile, the disciples were quite uncomfortable being in Samaria at all, much less the idea of talking with this woman.
The speaker then asked how many people we pass by as we go about our day that we do not notice. We are all in our own little worlds, focused on the busyness of our own lives without “seeing” the people around us – those we pass on the street, who are sitting next to us in restaurants, or even our neighbors as we check the mailbox. God notices all of them. Not only does He notice them, but He loves them!
When did we, as a Church, stop paying attention to the people around us? When did we start putting in our earbuds and blasting our Christian music while not even seeing the hurt on the faces of those we pass as we exercise?
Ever since I listened to that lecture, I have become more mindful of simply noticing the people around me – not necessarily doing anything differently … just noticing that they exist.
I admit that I am guilty of failing to see those around me when I go about my day. I lead a busy life – I work a full-time time, am earning a master’s degree in Christian Ministry, have a husband and special needs teenager, lead a Bible study, and write this blog. That does not leave me much time for anything else. However…God sees those around me who are hurting and need a smile, kind word, or other act of compassion. How can I join God in what He is doing around me if I don’t pay attention and look for His activity?
[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace looking at you and asking, “Are you OK?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]