One of the upsides of living in a major European city is great public transportation. Different types of trains, buses, street cars will bring you anytime anywhere. (Maybe it takes a little bit longer at night. But only a little.) And you always meet new people. (With ‘meet’, I mean, of course, watching them from a distance, listening in on their conversations.) I am sitting in a train right now on my way to work. Next to me are two total strangers talking about, how nowadays many people just complain a lot. An older gentleman complimented a younger woman for laughing in a situation, inconvenient for her. “You have always a choice”, he said, “complain or see the humor in the situation.” And now, they are in a deep discussion about the world in general and their personal lives specifically.
To me, it seems, like people on a train are the most human. (Our conductor just missed a station. Seriously. Drove right by it. Maybe, it is still too early for him. I just hope, he won’t repeat that stunt, when I have to get off.) Here you see everything. (I have witnessed all following examples personally.) A man in the outfit of a British butler (top hat, white gloves, and all) next to a punk. A drunken Russian next to a Japanese tourist. A man, transporting the skin of a zebra. (If you don’t believe me, I have the photo to prove it.) I once said between a guy texting in Hebrew and a girl texting in Arabic. But why should they care. Here, we all have only one goal. Reaching our destination. Nothing else matters.
In a train, you can find every type of person next to any other type of person. And as much as I enjoy this potpourri of lives, not everything is pleasing. Even though, I am an extrovert, I struggle being involved with other people’s lives. I tent to retreat into my privat little world, where I am emotionally self sufficient. I like thinking. No specific topic, just thinking in general. And I can do that without others. It works even better that way. But, I know, this is not, what we are called to do. You just can’t make disciples of all nations by keeping your distance, thinking about stuff. After all, the whole creation is waiting for the children of God to be finally revealed. (Even though, Jesus outsmarted all His opponents, He was not seen as a deep thinker. It seems to me, like He had two modes. Prayer and action. He was either talking to His Father alone, or knee deep in human suffering. There is no scripture, where He says to His disciples: “Guys, you know, what I thought?”)
The other day, on my way to work, a man sat close by, who was somewhat freakish. As far, as I could tell, he was not drunk or anything. But he didn’t comply to the unwritten law of commute. I don’t bother you, you don’t bother me. He made people uneasy and annoyed quite a few of his fellow passengers. Including me. But then it hit me. This guy needs Jesus. I don’t know a single thing about him, and just because he is not quiet enough, I judge him. Based on what? Based on nothing. I have mercy with me and expect that from everybody else. But for others? Maybe, as long as they are not an inconvenience. But shouldn’t I rather laugh about it?
I have mercy for myself, because I know, what I have been through. And just because I don’t know his story, I don’t have the right, to withhold mercy. Maybe he went to circumstances far worse than mine. Maybe he deserves even more mercy. We can’t judge, what we don’t know. (When I got off the train, I heard the conductor talking to a colleague. Turns out, the train engine had troubles, and he couldn’t stop the train. So, he was not tiered at all.) I don’t know about you, but I need a Jesus, who is knee deep in my suffering. We all do. And, as the Body of Christ, we are called to continue His mission. We are called to spend time alone with Our Father. And we are called to be knee deep in human suffering. Not just for each other. For the whole world. That’s it. Spend time with God, and spend time with your fellow humans. Bless God, and bless those around you. Get involved with God, and with the lives of others, carrying their burdens with them. As easy as that is, there is one problem. We just can’t do that, watching from afar, thinking.