Living with a stranger. The lease is nearing it’s term, so it was time for my roommate and me to talk about what we were going to do. Either we were both signing for another year, one was leaving, or both were leaving. In the midst of this conversation, I realized the person on the other side of the table, one the other side of the conversation was a near complete stranger. I have spent almost ten months sleeping, door unlocked next to a stranger, cohabiting with this person and trusting him in all sorts of ways. I left the conversation with a good understanding that he wasn’t going to sign another lease in this building. But, I also walked away with a sense that I was to blame for the fact that I was having the conversation with a stranger.
The stranger next door. So, we “met” through Craigslist and my qualifications as stated to my friends and family were that the guy didn’t appear to be a chainsaw murderer. Oh, he also had a penchant for cleanliness. We’d started hanging out with one another at random times once we first moved in together at the very end of last December. January was exciting as I’d found a roommate and a new friend. He was called away for business during the next couple months and I did some traveling of my own. The next eight months or so went by without so much as a whimper. Next thing I knew, I was having a conversation about extending a lease with the enigma of a roommate.
Where’s the big picture? Here I am today typing to you about a roommate, but I’m really not. Yes, I’m literally talking about a guy with whom I’ve been sharing an apartment, but I’m talking about so much more. If you caught the illusion earlier, I’m referring to your neighbor. I’m referring to people with whom you come into contact, whether it be on a daily or even an infrequent basis. I’m talking about family or stranger, male or female, attractive or homely. I’m talking about wasted opportunities at relationships and making an impact in our worlds.
But [the lawyer], desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” — Luke 10:29–37
Going, going, gone. This opportunity hasn’t been wasted completely and I have about two months to accomplish something with it. But, how often to we have such extended contact with people? Most of the people we meet, we have on the order of minutes, hours if we’re fortunate. What time is there to waste? What people are there who are undeserving of grace which we were undeserving to receive from God? Better yet, how much more deserving do they need to be? No, it’s not that we’ve been denied opportunities in this life. The fact of the matter is, we’ve buried our heads in the sand ignoring they even exist.
This isn’t the only opportunity I’ve passed up in my life. There have been many, but I found this one poignant and timely for me. What is that story for you? We all are looking to make an impact in the world. We’re all looking to start a revolution, big or small, and change the world. What I’ve realized is it’s easier than I ever thought. You don’t have to convert the masses. You don’t have to turn water into wine or a few fish into thousands. It takes letting one person know you care. It takes one act, conversation or gesture. Boom, the revolution’s begun. You may not see it then, but soon enough it’ll take root both in you and around you. You’ll see you’re amongst friends as opposed to living with a stranger.