As I type this I am listening to the greatest negative my apartment has—the constant, fairly loud sound of traffic (often very heavy traffic). I've basically gotten use to it, but I still notice it…especially at places in my abode that have reduced sound proofing (for example, the huge door to the outdoors just before the kitchen).
I've wondered, however, if perhaps it is more of a blessing than a curse. Once as I looked through the open blinds in the living room, it hit me that the vehicles whizzing by 24 hours a day were a reminder of the myriad people out there. It is impossible for me to be a hermit in this location—I am constantly reminded I am not alone. As a Christian this is a benefit—since our duty isn't to self, instead it is first to God and then to others:
Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these" (Mark 12:29-31, English Standard Version).
Everyone who drives by—even the motorcyclist my friend was convinced was doing 120MPH—is my neighbor. Not only do I owe them love, I owe them that love in action. And, as Jesus noted while describing the judgment (separating the goats from the sheep), what we do (or don't do) to others we do (or don't do) to Him.
And the King will answer them, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matthew 25:40).
Then he will answer them, saying, "Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me" (Matthew 25:45).
How we treat our neighbors reflects on our dedication to God. It reflects on our character. It reflects on the state of our soul.
Of course, the problem with masses of people (and constant traffic) is that it's easy to get desensitized to them. I've often said that the more people there are the less they notice each other (a part of the reason I do not liked being in locations packed with earthlings—for example, a mall at Christmas time).
As I watch the (relatively light) 7PM traffic head east and west (along with a Bart train that just passed by), I am reminded of a Christian contemporary song made famous by Brandon Heath. The tune, "Give Me Your Eyes," begins with him describing descending in a airplane ("my world from a mile high") and then entering the airport. As someone who has done that far more often in his life than his wife or he prefers, I can understand these final words before the first chorus kicks in:
Of the confusion and chaos
All those people going somewhere
Why have I never cared?
Every car, truck, motorcycle…you name it…that passes by this home the Lord has blessed me with has one or more people in it. Maybe it is someone who just lost their job and doesn't know how they are going to tell their spouse…or pay next month's mortgage for that matter. Maybe it is someone else who is returning from a doctor's visit and is trying to keep their mind enough on driving as they consider the news that they may not live through the end of the year. Maybe it is someone who doesn't know it, but some drunk a few miles up the road is going to make it so that don't even have until the end of the day.
Why have I never cared?
No, I cannot go stand out in traffic, get people to stop, and ask them how they are. I mean, how they really are, not the quick, "Good" we say in passing when given a perfunctory, "How you doin'?"
I can't stop those drivers, but I am surrounded by the people those vehicles represent, and I have prayed for what Brandon Heath's song requests:
Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see
And it doesn't take a long time going through the Gospels to see what kind of eyes Jesus had for people:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36).
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick (Matthew 14:14).
"I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat" (Mark 8:2).
And when the Lord saw her [the widow who had lost her only son], he had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep" (Luke 7:13).
Whether it was the spiritually lost, the ill, the hungry, the grieving…anyone who was hurting…our Savior's eyes for them were compassionate.
And those are the eyes I want…how about you?
But I worry, could I actually handle it? Or, would I be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of pain and need out there? Even worse, how about looking at someone you love and knowing that no matter what is done they will never accept God's gift of salvation?
Then would we want Jesus' eyes? Can you imagine how painful that was for Him?
I am going to still pray for Jesus' eyes, but perhaps a little less ambitiously. "Lord, please give me your eyes and your love for the ones you put in my path. And please never let me forget that not a single person who passes my window on the interstate is any less precious in your sight than I am."
"Please give me compassion for I-580."