“Impersonal”

It seems as if it is extremely difficult to have a meaningful conversation with other people nowadays in the secular world.  Even in an airplane or bus where people are in close proximity for extended periods of time, they seem to avoid conversation by looking down at their electronic devices.  It is quite often a case of convenience trumping courtesy with a face-to-face response almost nonexistent.  In a world where it is possible to make purchases with a plastic card and get answers from an artificial voice, this shouldn’t come as a big surprise.  Depending upon one’s job, it might be possible to go a whole day without speaking to another human.

Is this the type of life that God intends for his people, virtually self-centered and impersonal?  We are told in his word to entertain strangers (Heb 13:2) and outsiders (Col 4:5) (1 Th 4:12) (1 Ti 3:7) (Rom 15:2).  The standard is much higher among brethren.  Even a cursory scan of New Testament scriptures will yield a treasure chest of “one another” verses (Acts 4:32) (Rom 12:10) (1 Cor 12:25) (Gal 5:13) (Eph 4:32).  It would be nearly impossible to obey these commandments and still be impersonal.  How could we follow Jesus’ example without a lot of face-to-face interaction.  He spoke to and touched social outcasts, an adulterous woman (Jo 8: 4-11) a Samaritan woman (Jo 4:9,10) he cured various lepers (Lk 17:12) (Lk 7:22) (Mt 11:5) and washed the apostles’ feet (Jo 13:4,5) all with empathy and compassion.

Jesus asked his apostles (Jo 15:9,10) and us (Jo 17:20) to obey his commandments (and examples) and we will be his friends (Jo 15:14-15).  We cannot do this with an impersonal attitude. As with marriage, “we can’t feel our way into a better way of acting, but we can act our way into a better way of feeling.”

—Jim Bailey