I have quite literally walked miles across this city, and I have seen how people here live – connected to their smart phones.
For a truth, there is a danger in making eye contact with the wrong person – a lesson I learned a week ago when I happened to catch the eyes of two dodgy guys who followed me out of the train – however there is a balance. It’s tempting. After you’ve been here and gotten use to the hustle of London’s life, there’s a danger of turning into one of the hundreds bustling by – head down, eyes evading others, earbuds in and reality out.
I read a book on British culture before coming here to help prep me for the culture shock. Over and over it emphasized the coolness of the society. But that’s not the case. The people here crave love and attention – just like they do back home.
There’s the guy from the bus who dropped out of school and tried to get into Uni by winning a guitar scholarship – who now works an average job but hopes to turn his talent into something more.
What about the vicar’s son who grew up educated but fell into the wrong group and is now trying to pick the pieces of his shattered life and put them back together?
Maybe it’s the girl sitting on the footpath outside the train station who traveled from Birmingham to visit a friend who lives in the city. She’s working on her masters degree as well as her next play for the theatre stage.
Or what about the girl who is late to work at a local nursery because the bus blew passed – not wanting to stop long enough to pick up two waiting passengers?
How about the uni student who is working at a pie and mash shop and dreams of one day leaving England behind to go follow his dreams of a better life in the US?
See the guy over there with the red vest selling a magazine called the Big Issue? Yeah, he’s been homeless but is trying to work out of it and find housing in Greenwich. Life may not be great now, but hopefully once there’s a roof over his head things will look up.
The lady standing out of the rain under the awning has been single her whole life. She’s in her fifties and left her fiance because she knew that it wasn’t healthy for her relationship with God. It’s taken her a year to recover from the break up, but she’s getting her relationship with Christ back on track and is so excited about the future.
You know what connects each of these people? The desire for someone to take a genuine interest in their lives.
Can I ask you a question?
When is the last time you cried over the group of noisy teens sitting the next table over in McDonalds because it hit you that the likelihood of them having even heard the gospel is next to zero?
When is the last time you were so overwhelmed for the strangers around you that you had to find a seat in the park and cry out to God?
Matthew 9:36 tells a time when Christ saw the people around Him. The verse says “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.”
Can I let you in on a secret? He SAW them THEN had compassion.
You can’t see the people around if you’re looking down at your phone.
If you can’t see the people around you, you’re not going to care about them.
If you don’t care about them, who will?
“So look up from your phones, shut down those displays. We have a finite existence a set number of days.” – Look Up
I’m not trying to be self-righteous. I have had SO many times when I have ignored the people around me. I have settled for the comfortable anonymity that my smart phone affords. My fear of others opinions rules my life.
My life is not infinite. Barring a miracle from God, my time here in London – while I desperately desire to stay – will end in December. The clock is ticking for me.
That being the case… how can I communicate how much the God who created them loves them if I refuse to move away from my selfishness? How selfish can I be to say, “the comfort of not even attempting is far more important than you eternal soul.”? Does it really take much to ask a question, give a compliment, or even make an observation?
And can I tell you something? After I ask a question, I shut up and listen. And for some reason, it works. They open up. Tell me what’s going on. And guess what? When I ask them about their beliefs – they share. These fabled “cold-hearted, impersonal” people tell me. And you know what else? I almost always am able to share the gospel.
I get to tell them that someone loves them! I get to tell them someone AMAZING cares for them!
…. all because I looked up.