I know that this goes without saying, but every person has a story. Turns out, it’s a God-given unique story. And of course, each person’s story contains chapters of triumph and of pain, of delight and of sadness. In my own bumpy journey as a follower of Jesus, He has put on my heart a curiosity thing about the people that I cross paths with. That curiosity thing, as it turns out, stems from biblical scriptures like the one in John 13:34, wherein Jesus gives a “new” commandment to love one another: “As I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”
The love that Jesus refers to is a very lofty term with a broad range of obligations implied for our hearts to absorb. To name a few love characteristics: kindness, truthfulness, gentleness, edifying words, bearing the burdens of others and self-control. In the same vein, the Apostle Paul wrote this to the church in Colossae: “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness and patience.”
So, I use the word curiosity here in the context of attentiveness and concern, as well as compassion and empathy toward another person. Simple curiosity can start with eye contact and a sincere greeting and then might take the form of a kind gesture or comment to a stranger, such as complimenting your food server on their good service, which might open a dialogue, which might then lead to a tiny glimpse into that person’s life, which, if carried forward, with another respectful question or comment could lead to a page or even two pages of that person’s story. It might even lead to some God-speak or an invitation to church!
What is true in many cases (in my experience) is that people will seize an opportunity to share a few pages of their life story when they sense a sincerely interested ear … even to someone they just met.
The book of Matthew, verse 5:16 calls for Jesus’ disciples to “let your light shine before others.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 states, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is in Spirit.” Let’s learn to look at ourselves — and others — through the lens of Christ’s unfailing love. As you persevere in this, you will gradually find it easier to love yourself and others. Being a believer who is truly curious about others and their welfare requires that we let down our own guard a bit, maybe conquering a fear or two and then showing a willingness to “love others” in a manner consistent with the way our Lord and Savior Jesus loves us. Fulfilling the Great Commission of speaking the gospel to all the nations begins in our everyday lives with the “others” whose paths we cross. Be blessed and curious!
Roy Slate is pastor of Prodigal Church.