Richard Renaldi is a photographer in New York who recently did a project where he asked strangers on the street to pose together as if they were family.
His request has gotten some strange looks.
It’s awkward at first. Renaldi purposefully looks for people who come from different circles, different ethnicities, different ways of dressing, different ages. He has them put their arms around each other or rest their head on someone shoulder.
But then a funny thing happens.
One of the subjects, Brian Sneeden, said in the CBS story that he walked away with a perhaps unexpected feeling.
“I felt like I cared for her,” he said. “I felt like it brought down a lot of barriers.”
Everyone came away with good feelings. Renaldi described the project as “lovely.”
Have you ever found it difficult to love a stranger? It’s an odd thought. How can we love someone we don’t even know? Don’t they have to make you feel some kind of affection and loyalty for them before you can love them?
But aren’t Christians called to love everyone, even strangers?
Renaldi’s project illustrates a secret about how to love strangers: Act like you already do, even if you don’t feel it yet.
“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple,” wrote C.S. Lewis. “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him. If you injure someone you dislike, you will find yourself disliking him more. If you do him a good turn, you will find yourself disliking him less.”
What are some ways you can love a stranger today?