We both hurried toward the elevator. The young man didn't look familiar, but he greeted me with such obvious delight and recognition that I was startled. And embarrassed! -- because without thinking, I blurted out, "Do I know you?"
"No," he smiled, "you've never seen me before."
We rode down in the elevator together, and I'll never forget the conversation. He told me it was his usual custom to greet strangers as he had me. "Not with just a casual good morning," he said, "but with great enthusiasm." Then he added, "This might sound foolish, but small as it may be, it's my contribution to mankind. I try to think of every stranger I meet as a potential friend!"
I never say him again, but after talking with him, I began to realize how often I was expecting others to be, in a way, potential enemies -- certainly not potential friends. The waitress in the restaurant. The teller at the bank. Every driver on the road!
"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" n1 the Bible says. We might develop that thought and say, "For as he thinketh of the stranger, so the stranger will appear to act toward him." If we view a waitress as a potential enemy -- as being so slow and inefficient that she will make us late for our next appointment -- she probably will. If we expect to have to do battle with the teller at the bank, we may be in for a hard time. If we're expecting all the drivers on the road to be aiming for us, we'd best be careful.
n1 Proverbs 23:7
The stranger prompted me to remember what I knew to be true about my fellowman. I knew that man is created in the spiritual image of God, divine Spirit, as the Bible tells us. Therefore, man must be always good, always intelligent, always lovable. As I began to think this way and to identify man with this correct view, a greater freedom from pressure became evident in my life.
When we view a stranger as in reality the man of God's creating, it is easy to see him as a potential friend. Changes begin to take place within us. We find ourselves becoming more patient, more compassionate. We are freer from irritation, more gentle and understanding. These God-derived qualities release us from those states of thought that often produce tension and ill health.
To truly love either friend or enemy is to live Christ Jesus' command, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them." n2
n2 Matthew 7:12
So where does that potential enemy we so frequently encounter come from?
Mary Baker Eddy n3 asks: "Who is thine enemy that thou shouldst love him? Is it a creature or a thing outside thine own creation?
n3 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science
"Can you see an enemy, except you first formulate this enemy and then look upon the object of your own conception?" n4
n4 Miscellaneous Writings,m p. 8
An honest answer will help put us on the right track. Recognizing the "enemy" to be solely in our thinking, we can lose him by replacing the false concept with a fuller sense of God's true man, the perfect and living expression of divine Spirit. We'll find it's easier to view everyone as potential friends.
What a tremendous contribution to mankind we will be making when we refuse to formulate any kind of enemy and see instead God's immortal man, in reality already our brother. DAILY BIBLE VERSE As touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. . . . but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more. I Thessalonians 4:9- 10