BY REV. DR. SARAH ROHRET
CALVARY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Jesus said, "Love your enemies."
That concept is hard, because "enemies" is pretty vague. Most of us go through life thinking: “Enemies? I don't have enemies. I'll pray for North Korea, but I don't have enemies."
And so, as a spiritual practice, loving enemies is a muscle that often goes unused.
Here's a way to work that muscle (because we all know that unless we use a muscle it will shrink and get weak and not be there when you need its strength). Practice this: Every time you go into a store, a restaurant, a bar etc. treat the server as if they were the richest person on earth and you needed their endorsement. Practice loving the people that are most ignored, yelled at, groped and underpaid in our area — the cashiers, the servers and retail workers.
Listening to the youth in my church who do these jobs, there are a lot of us who need to work our love for strangers muscle. Kids tell me all the time how adults get mad at them and blame them for doing their jobs as they were trained. By the end of the summer, they are discouraged, frustrated and say things like “I hate tourists.”
Jesus taught his disciples to love strangers, and to pay attention to the people around them who they took for granted. When the woman who was sick touched Jesus' coat in the crowd, he looked for her to talk to her. She didn't think she was anyone special, and had been treated that way by lots of people in her community. Jesus saw her as a human being, talked with her and blessed her.
Be like Jesus — take notice of the people serving you, see them as human beings, talk with them and bless them with a compliment and sincere gratitude. If you are frustrated with something, remember that no one is out to ruin your day. Breathe, be calm and work together to fix whatever is wrong. Walk away from every interaction leaving behind smiles and kindness. This will take practice, its like working a muscle that is weak — you start small and you build it up by paying attention.
Eventually it will be more natural, and you will be reflecting the love of God around you every day.