“Hey, kid, help me with this, will you?” The voice came from the man who was repairing his car on the street. Although I grew up in that neighborhood, I did not know many of the people who lived there. This man was one of those I never met. In fact, not many people knew him, nor wanted to know him. He was a peculiar fellow, not always clean and not always friendly. Yet when he asked me to help him, I felt compelled to do so. As I walked up to the car that he was working on, I knew that this is not the type of person that my parents would want me to associate with. I felt a certain boldness and walked up to him anyway.
As I helped him with the task, we began to talk about many things. Although I was much younger than he, I noticed a willingness in him to open up and talk about things that you wouldn’t share with a stranger. He told me about the struggles that he faced at work, and with his family. We discussed about the neighborhood and the problems we faced with crime at night. As we continued to work and talk, I noticed a relationship being built with him.
After that incident, we greeted each other whenever we met. We were no longer strangers or just mere acquaintances. We were now “friends” to a certain level of the word. In his book, The Cell Church: Preparing Your Church for the Coming Harvest, Larry Stockstill speaks of a “partnership” that develops with those you serve. He mentions Jesus’ statement to Peter “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me” (John 13:8). Stockstill says that Jesus was essentially saying “If I don’t serve you, we are not partners.”
Too often, people refrain from relating with the community. Our purpose is not to survive in their midst as a “peculiar people.” Rather we are to lend a hand, work with them, and be a part of the community. We must be willing to give of our time, energy and money to those who are in need. We can look at others with the same humility that Jesus exemplified when he bent down to wash the feet of his disciples. Let’s open our eyes and look at those around us. What is their pain, what are their needs? How can you offer yourself to serve those around you? When we are able to do this, we are certainly on the road to developing a compassion like that of Jesus.