During the last week I have been in intense conversations about homelessness in Costa Mesa, immigration in Orange County, and worker justice in local hotels. It is overwhelming to consider all the hurting people that surround us, so sometimes the easiest thing to do is to steel and gird ourselves against our neighbors' pain for we can't bear to carry it all.
This would be a good mode of survival if I weren't a Christian. Jesus reminds us that each time we feed the hungry, cloth the naked, and care for the least fortunate in our society we meet him face to face.
I wonder what would happen if we took him seriously. I have a feeling our lives would change. I don't think we could ignore homelessness. I doubt that we could avert our eyes when we hear of exploitation in the workplace. I think the issue of immigration would be dealt with in a completely different way. Christians, what if we actually listened to Jesus and met him in everyone we meet?
I love the Hindu concept of "Namaste," roughly translated as "the God in me greets the God in you."
If we saw the divine in one another we would be awed by each other, we would go out of our way to help each other. We could never ignore injustice because we would be ignoring God!
If we met Jesus in every person, if we greeted God in each encounter, our community would look quite different and we ourselves would be different. I think we'd be more joyful. Perhaps we'd feel more blessed. With the holy among us, despair might even dissipate!
Whether you're Christian or Hindu, of a faith or no faith at all, perhaps you might try a simple practice of looking for Jesus or greeting God, in all of your encounters this next week. Will it change your outlook on social issues? I don't know, but I believe it will change your life!
SARAH HALVERSON is pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.