It’s inevitable. You know it’s coming, but there is nothing you can do to stop it. Maybe you are the person who perennially shows up late hoping to avoid it. Or maybe you dart to the restroom or take the kids to the nursery a few minutes early in an attempt to dodge what’s about to come. But then you realize it’s too late. You missed your opportunity to escape.

Nestled somewhere comfortably between a call to prayer and a worship song is that uncomfortable moment during the church service when the pastor asks you to stand up . . . wait for it . . . and greet your neighbor (insert scary sound here). But not just any neighbor. He asks you to greet someone new, someone whom you have never met.

For some people—especially in larger churches—this can be an intimidating experience. It can be an awkward time when you are forced to communicate with others. At this moment, there’s no hiding behind a keyboard, posting anonymous quips on someone’s blog, tweeting your pearls of wisdom, checking your Facebook status, or posting on Instagram. It’s time to step into the real world and interact with real human beings.

Uh, oh!

Your palms are sweaty and your heart is racing. You don’t want to be the only person standing there awkwardly looking around for someone you know to rescue you from that quasi-embarrassing moment. You have two choices: you could either faint your way out of the situation (which, of course, could complicate matters), or you could push through that sense of weirdness and actually go talk to someone even though it might make you feel uncomfortable.

You might feel as though you have nothing in common with the little child in the pew behind you or the elderly woman sitting near the front. But the pastor is not asking you to become BFFs (best friends forever) with anyone. He is simply asking you to greet each other as the apostle Paul exhorted and with the same welcoming spirit as Jesus. A statement as simple as “Nice to see you today,” or asking, “How are you doing?” will start a conversation that could genuinely lead to improving the other person’s day.

Don’t think for one minute you are ever wasting your time or someone else’s time when you reach out to people in a loving and sincere way. That’s how we are supposed to treat each other. That’s how we enter into community with others.

Being able to push through that awkwardness will be a rewarding experience. And when you do, you will surely experience a small “God moment.” All sorts of incredible and life-altering things can happen when we depend on the Lord like freedom to be more loving, developing true friendships, building community, depending upon Jesus, or experiencing joy in the Lord—all things we were created for.

Try it next Sunday. Push through the uncomfortable feeling by reaching out to someone new and show them the love Jesus would show. Don’t retreat into the comfortable. Step out and make a difference. Small steps in the right direction still take us where we want—and need—to go.

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