E36: This time can bring out the best in you

PODCAST: Even in a time of social isolation, there are many opportunities to love our neighbor as ourselves – if we keep our eyes open to them.

How we can love our neighbor during the coronavirus pandemic—Podcast

The reality is that many of us are #stuckathome right now. Are you busier than ever before, or just really bored? Times like this can bring out the worst in people, or the best. In this episode, Milenko and Eunice share some thoughts about how we can love our neighbor right where we are, keeping our eyes and hearts open to find God’s will in this unique time.

Transcript: “Living the Gospel” podcast, Episode 36: This time can bring out the best in you

This is ActiveChristianity’s “Living the Gospel” podcast. Join us as we explore different aspects of the gospel according to the Bible, and how we can put this into practice in daily life.

Milenko: Welcome to “Living the Gospel” podcast, I’m Milenko …

Eunice: And I’m Eunice.

Milenko: And at the time of recording, we’ve already been in this very dramatic, difficult, challenging situation with the coronavirus pandemic which has spread across the world and turned things upside down. Each day, we’re getting news that things have become even more challenging, and in this time, it can really be sometimes … You can start wondering, where’s it going to end, and what can I do?

Eunice: And even for our daily lives too, everyone’s trying to find a new normal in their daily schedules, and how everyone in the home fits in to this schedule and all that, right?

Milenko: And our routines have really changed. Also, the way we communicate, the way we’re together …

Eunice: … how we work. So, we thought that we want to do an episode just to encourage you guys as much as we want to encourage ourselves as well, to just keep our eyes and hearts open during this time and look beyond ourselves, consider the others and see how we can find God’s will in this time that we’re living in.

Milenko: Yeah, because obviously, there are people who are really being affected in radical ways, and more and more of them as each day goes by. You know, people are losing their jobs, they’re sick, they’re maybe losing loved ones; there’s a lot of uncertainty. All our routines, as we said, are disrupted with travel and schooling and work and communication, and it’s a time where everyone more or less is being affected. We’ve got our own challenges and difficulties, and it can be very easy to be self-absorbed in this time.

Eunice: It is quite overwhelming sometimes.

Milenko: It is overwhelming. But in this really challenging situation where everything really has changed, and it can be very natural to think of myself and my own family and those around me and so on, which of course we should be doing … I think it’s also a really good opportunity to start putting some of the most central words of the Bible into practice. If you think about what Jesus says, there’s one verse that He brings out. He says that the greatest commandment is to love God, to serve Him with all of our heart, and He said the second one is like it; it’s very similar. So, it’s the second most important after serving God, that is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:29-31) And of course, this is something that is valid and something that we need to do at all times, but in times like these, I think it’s even more an opportunity to open our eyes, to look around and see: How can I put that into practice?

Eunice: It can be a time when this can bring out the best in us.

Milenko: Really, think about that! It can bring out the best! A situation like this can bring out the worst in people, and often does, and it can do the opposite – it can bring out the best in people, which we’ve also seen many, many fantastic examples of. People that are really giving their lives, giving their time, giving their money, everything that they have …

Eunice: … their energy.

Milenko: … their energy to help and bless other people, in the middle of their own challenges that they’re facing; people that are tirelessly serving others. We’d really like to say something about this, because it’s so central in Christianity as well, and how God thinks. God really wants us to show mercy and to show compassion and to show goodness and kindness to people. That’s actually a commandment – be kind to one another, for example. This is God’s way of thinking. And who knows, this situation can really teach us more than ever before how we can do this.

But in practical terms, loving your neighbor as yourself – what is that? How can we do that? Do you have any ideas?

Eunice: I think for a lot of us, the reality is that we’re stuck at home.

Milenko: Right.

Eunice: And we’re not all called to save the world, to put it that way, right? But I think that when we open our eyes, then we can see how we can help people just in our immediate surroundings. Just starting at home, that we can create a good atmosphere at home. You know, having victory in the home is such a good spirit that people around you sense that there is this uplifting spirit in the home. You’re not full of complaints or full of criticism for how people are handling the situation, and that brings a good spirit in the home.

Milenko: Being together much more than we might usually be with people that are close to us, our family or others that we might be sharing a home with, can be challenging you know. With human nature, we sooner or later feel that we’re getting on each other’s nerves, to use that expression. But here it really is an opportunity to lay down my life and my needs and my demands and so on, and start living for the others, to really work on that. You mentioned to have a good atmosphere in the home. Think that I can be one of those that creates a good atmosphere. You know, when there is a bit of tension, I can be along to diffuse it and to come with something good and something blessed, and there’s so many different ways you can do that. And if we can really start there, I think it’s an amazing … Imagine if everyone did that!

Eunice: I think we also have a lot more quality time than before; at least, opportunities for quality time, to be with the people in our home. Didn’t you say also that you experienced that in your own home as well, that you have more time with your kids to talk?

Milenko: Yeah, we’ve got more contact than we have maybe on a busy day otherwise, where people are out and doing things and there are a lot of activities outside the home and, you know, the daily routine. But suddenly all that’s turned upside down and we’re having to spend time together, and it’s actually a really, really good opportunity to do good for one another. So, I can really recommend that, that if we start there, that’s a huge start.

And then we can also look further, you know. There are other people stuck at home that maybe don’t have a family. Maybe they’re alone, or …

Eunice: They don’t have siblings.

Milenko: … they don’t have siblings. Think about it, who do you know that is in a situation like that? Maybe you can do something for them. It might be difficult to visit them, but you can give them a phone call, send them a message, get something delivered to their door … There’s a lot of different things you can do. And really, to do this out of love for people, that we do it because it’s something that God wants us to do. We’re not just talking about being a “do-gooder,” but really to have a genuine care and love for people.

And when we have it like that, then we also have them on our hearts, that we pray for them. And there we come into another area which I think is really, really important – the ministry of prayer. Especially in this time, there’s so many things that we can and should be praying about. As Christians, this is our main life channel to God, that is through prayer. And think what we can do there! There are a lot of things we can pray for. There are people we can pray for.

Eunice: We can pray for the sick, those in the hospitals working night and day …

Milenko: … those who are bereaved, maybe people we know have lost someone dear to them, or people we don’t know. There’s so many people now who are going through really difficult times because of that. We can pray for them, have them on our hearts, really have a care for people. And as you said, there are people who are working day and night to help people in hospitals, in the health system. They’re really, really doing a great work, and they need our prayers. It’s exhausting work; it’s very demanding.

Eunice: They have families too.

Milenko: They have families too. It’s mentally and physically demanding, and they really need our prayers. We can be along there!

Eunice: And also, people who maybe are really struggling to kind of see the light in this. Maybe they’re struggling financial-wise, and just with their thoughts and things like that, and it can be pretty heavy for them. We can pray for them.

Milenko: Yeah, and that their faith is strengthened, that they receive comfort, and also that they can get help. On that note, we can also pray for our leaders who are in a really, really challenging situation. I mean, you can really be a “sofa-president” and “know all the answers,” watching what their decisions are and commenting on it, but really think if you were in that position and you had that responsibility … We can pray for them, whether we agree with politics or not; that’s not the point. You know, you can be for or against; that’s beside the point. The thing is that our leaders that are there, they need wisdom now to take the right decisions, that they really can rule and that they can steer the country with wisdom and be a support and an encouragement and an inspiration for people. That’s what we need now. So, we can do that. That’s also written in the Bible. It’s Biblical that we should pray for the government, pray for our leaders. It doesn’t talk about politics, but it talks about having our country on our heart, our leaders, that they can really be steered in this really challenging, difficult time.

Eunice: I remember I heard a sermon once that rings in my heart often. It was about, you know, if you see your country going in a bad direction and you sit and complain, but then if the godly people don’t pray, do you expect the ungodly people to pray?

Milenko: Right, exactly.

Eunice: And the prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16), so it’s actually our responsibility to pray.

Milenko: It’s our responsibility, yes. And you can ask then, wouldn’t God do anything anyway? But I think it’s … God, He knows everything. God is everywhere. God is almighty, but He wants us to get involved. He wants us to have care. He wants us to open, expand our hearts to encompass all these people and the situation. You know, it is easy to criticize, it’s easy to complain, it’s easy to become anxious, it’s easy to have all these different negative thoughts and reactions. But here, I think God is speaking to us, that we should change that, change that way of thinking. Learn to love, learn to give, learn to be generous in so many different ways, whether that’s community work, volunteering where you can, or as we talked about, making a good atmosphere at home, praying …

Eunice: … even a good atmosphere on social media, sharing good words.

Milenko: Right, exactly. You know, there is a lot of negative …

Eunice: … worrying info …

Milenko: … and there’s a lot of negative info and negative words, as the situation also dictates. But at the same time, we can be along in spreading light and hope.

Eunice: Spread God’s word.

Milenko: Where there is maybe a difficult situation, that I can help to spread hope and comfort. So, this is really I think an exercise for us to go deep into ourselves, to find all that egotism and selfishness that is in our nature, and learn to work with that, so that we can become generous and open and loving people. Far from us turning our backs on our responsibilities – we have our situations, we have our responsibilities economically and with our family and you know, all that kind of thing – but that’s exactly where it is, that I, now, there can work with the mind that God has, that I do it with love for other people. And there is a blessing in that. It is better to give than to receive, it’s written in Acts. I think we’ll find that. It’s much more blessed to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35.)

Eunice: And you know, when situations are new and different, then we have to remember to be awake to God’s promptings. We might not be able to do things we usually always do, but then I think that’s what’s actually kind of really exciting too, that I can … I remind myself daily: love is creative. God puts people on your heart that you can do something a little extra special for and when you have that person on your heart, then the good ideas come.

Milenko: Right, you become creative.

Eunice: Yeah, and in this situation, we kind of have to be, because we can’t see people the way we usually do.

Milenko: And it is different than we’re used to.

Eunice: But it makes those connections so special.

Milenko: Right. And it’s quite amazing to think of a virus, just this tiny little thing that you can’t see, but how it’s managed to slow the world down, turn it upside down. And this is a real opportunity for both the good and the bad to come out. Think that we can use this opportunity, with all its challenges, all the hard times, the difficulties, that it can be used to promote the kingdom of God. That this situation, when I look back at it, you can still look back and say, “In that time there, eternal treasures were gained.” And there, others can look back and they can remember that time – that’s where we were blessed. And that’s where I could bless. This is where we came closer together. And that it doesn’t get forgotten later when things turn back to normal, which they will, but that we can keep up that momentum. The lessons that we’ve learned here, that we can continue with that. And that’s really something, to understand God’s will in this situation.

Eunice: … for my own personal life.

Milenko: Right. How’s God using this situation? What’s He working in me, personally? And how can I be along in spreading that spirit out to people? I think we all have a responsibility here, as you mentioned before, to pray, and a responsibility to bless, and really to be ambassadors for the kingdom of God, ambassadors for Christ. It’s a golden opportunity, despite everything.

Eunice: It is! So, I don’t see it as a great hindrance, but as a golden opportunity to find God’s will and come closer to Him. And it’ll be exciting to be able to talk with the people you live with in some time, look back with good memories and you can talk about the special things you did.

Milenko: Right. And it’s an opportunity that hopefully we won’t experience again in that way, but it is an opportunity we have now, and now we have to live and we have to now use it for the best.

Eunice: It can bring out the best in you.

Milenko: It can bring out the best. Let it bring out the best in you. And remember, we can pray. We can pray, and we can pray, and we can pray. There’s no limit to how much we can pray and whom we can pray for; really, to expand our horizons.

Eunice: That’s what I want to do too.

Milenko: Yeah, I think that’s so important now. People we don’t know, we can have them on our hearts. People that maybe we’ve had difficulties with, we can love them. People that we don’t agree with, we can still bless them, in so many ways. And not least, to pray for our government, pray for our leaders, and for those in the church, our brothers and sisters who are in the same faith, that they can be encouraged and strengthened, that we can come even closer together. Yeah, this is really my prayer.

Eunice: And I think for both of us; I think I can speak for both of us too, that we also find areas where we can expand and work with too, so we’re in this together.

Milenko: Right, absolutely.

Eunice: So, thank you for listening, and if you’re interested in … maybe you find it a little bit difficult to get into praying, to put it that way, we have an episode – episode 21, called “Prayer is work.” I think that’s a super encouraging episode for more on the topic of prayer. And if you’re interested in listening to more episodes we recorded especially for this time, check out episode 31 and 33. Episode 31 is about trusting God, and episode 33 is about the end times.

Milenko: And there’s also an article on ActiveChristianity which I’d really like to recommend. It’s called “Prayer room ministry: Triggering the power of God’s grace.” That’s quite a title, but go and read it; I think it’s really edifying in this time.

Eunice: Thank you for helping us to spread the good news of the gospel and have a really good week. Bye!

Milenko: All the best, bye bye!

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