“Hi Josh! How are you doing today?” Who had said that, who knew my name? I turned my head and there was the manager of my gym with a broad smile on his face and genuine care for how my day was going so far. The question caught me off guard and I stammered, “Great. What about you?” As I headed to the treadmill, ready to get my work out in, I began to think over how interesting, and how important, that brief interchange was and how it relates to the gospel.
Let me be clear up front, I am not overly obsessed with working out. I signed up for this gym at the end of January as a part of a discount program they were running. I frequent it a couple of times a week but prior to this conversation, I had been out of the country for two weeks and hadn’t been to the gym for almost three. And that’s the part that caught me off guard, that’s the part that truly amazed me. Kyle had called me by name before I had checked in, before my picture pulled up on the screen. He made it a point to know the people under his care as gym manager, whether they were frequent guests or not.
So what does all of this have to do with the gospel? I believe that Kyle has grasped an important principle of customer service that every believer should apply to every sphere of their life. He has grasped the importance of relationship and hospitality in the context of loving others. And the manner in which he lived that out, authentically and intentionally, is something that would serve us as Christians more as we seek to make disciples.
Think about your weekly routine for just a moment. What are some of the places that you frequent on an ongoing basis? Maybe it’s a local Starbucks or Panera, maybe it’s the same grocery store that you have to pass on your way home from work, maybe it’s your child’s teacher as you drop them off in class this morning. Who are the people that you encounter on a regular schedule. Now ask yourself what you know about them? Be careful with this one, I’m not asking you to consider what you think about them but what you know about them. Do you know their names, some of their likes and dislikes, what they are passionate about? Or have they simply become a part of the process by which you attain something, a venti latte or your produce or an education for your children?
When asked about the greatest commandment, Matthew 22 records that we’re to love God and love others. In order to truly love others, out of the grace and mercy and love that God has poured out on us, we have to view them as people created in the image of God. We have to see those around us, those who are in our circles of everyday life, not as a part of the machine that fuels our lives but as flesh and blood people with real hopes, real dreams, real heartbreak, real sin, and in need of a real Savior.
The seven words out of the managers mouth spoke words of life and wisdom. They showed that he cared, that he was interested, that I wasn’t simply a customer who had paid my dues to the gym. And in that moment, I realized how often I fall short in extending that same grace to others; how often I have bought into the lie that people exist for me. May God grant us the eyes to see the people around us, may He grace us with hearts overflowing in love for the people of our community, and may He embolden us to intentionally invite others into this great story we are a part of.