As Americans, we have a multitude of distractions which complicate our lives. What I’ve found most attractive about the Indian culture is its simplicity. People here are not controlled by time or technology. Maintaining relationships, spending time with people and making sure they know they are cared for is valued most in this culture. Every morning, I am asked by someone if I have eaten breakfast. As an American, I found this rather unusual; normally, in the states, the first question that is asked upon seeing someone is not whether or not they have eaten breakfast. It is very important here that people, especially guests are treated well; it was shocking at first to see how much the point of taking care of guests is stressed. When visiting other people’s homes here, I have discovered that they show you how much they care for you through food. Even if you have eaten two helping s of whatever nice dish they have served, it is still not enough. They will continue serving you until they are satisfied that you have been completely stuffed. This was such a transition for me. It is so easy, what with our facebook profiles and twitter accounts, to be completely concerned with ourselves and tune out the rest of the world. In a lot of ways, social media encourages people to be self-focused and introspective. The first thing you see when opening your Facebook page is “What’s on your mind?” We live day to day asking “What shall I wear?” “What will people think of me if I do this?” “How do I make people like me?” and if you’re a Christian, most often the question is “How do I fit God into the life I have built for myself?” rather than “How do I live the life God has built for me?”
The foundation of Christianity is relationships, in fact; the whole bible is centered around two relationships; your relationship with God and your relationship with other people. Jesus said in Matthew 22:37-40, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it; You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” Therefore the first commandment is to establish a relationship with God, and the second is to establish one with your fellow man. Yet why is it so hard for us to put down the iPhone and stop posting what we are doing or how we feel long enough to invite a friend over and spend time with them? Why is it so difficult to stop focusing on ourselves for a few hours and invest in some people who need Jesus.
What I love about India is that you make friends everywhere you go; your dentist, the man working behind the counter at the bank, your tailor, the check-out lady at the grocery store. All of these people become your friends and thus shopping becomes less of a task and more of a visit; you are not only going to the store to buy the things you need, but you’re also visiting friends. It gives such a great sense of community that you can’t find most anywhere else.
Our goal as Christians should be to make friends wherever we go. To invest in the people around us and take time to make disciples that will make disciples. “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). Today, we are called to put aside our fleshly desires and seek after God. We are called to be a body of love and compassion who desire to invest in other people’s lives, to build community with one another. So what are you waiting for? Go make a friend today.