Our church is learning to be more mission-minded. Jesus called us to be in the world and make disciples. There are some people who will never step foot in a "church building." In fact, statistically 70% of people in our city do not attend church. How many more of those people don't even know Jesus? As a first step to help in this mindset shift, our church body won't be meeting together tomorrow for a service. Instead, we are meeting across 4 different locations in our communities to meet our neighbors and share the love of Jesus with them. We are going to them, instead of hoping they will just come to us. One of these locations is our house, in our neighborhood, with our neighbors.
This is the reason my husband and I just finished pushing our 4 1/2 month old in his stroller around the block, meeting neighbors and inviting them to a cookout tomorrow at our house. That doesn't sound too difficult does it? Seriously, it was one of the hardest things I have done in a while.You see, our neighbors don't look like us, dress like us, act like us, or even take care of their houses as well as we do. We don't borrow cups of sugar. We don't share meals together. In fact, I would be scared to death to even walk into some of the houses that surround us. On our journey, we navigated our way around the roads covered with pot holes. We were chased by several barking dogs that constantly rule and roam the streets. We walked up to houses that I was scared to walk up to the front door of, and at some houses you couldn't even get to the front door because of all of the junk in the yard. Some people we met wanted to walk up to my baby to meet him and touch him, and honestly inside I cringed. I cringed because they were dirty. My flesh wanted to retreat back into our clean, safe house as fast as I could. My flesh was angry that I was even having to do this. I told my husband I hated our house and our neighborhood and I just wanted to move away into a place that's more comfortable. Then the Holy Spirit whispered to me from 2 Corinthians 5, "...and He died for all." Completely aware of my sinful thoughts and feelings, I looked over at my husband and asked, "Is it hard for you to grasp that Jesus doesn't have favorites? He loves us all the same, and He sees us all the same." He gave me a half-smurk that suggested he was having a hard time swallowing everything we were experiencing too. He answered, "Yep." Then he added, "I'm just grateful that God called us here instead of to a people who run around naked, live in huts, and don't speak our language." (Props to him for looking at the bright side!) The reality was sinking in on a whole new level that this is what God has called us to do. He put us here for a reason. If we don't show our neighbors Jesus, who will? And how will we ever have the opportunity to tell them about Jesus if we never meet them, hang out with them, get to know them? It's impossible.
I knew that continuing on was what we had to do. I whispered a prayer to Jesus, "Please change my heart. Please help me keep going." In all honesty, the second half of our walk around the neighborhood did seem a little easier. I think that's because my perspective was different. My husband started singing the words to a song we have recently latched onto. The lines of the song are "we give all for Your ultimate call, we've no doubt You are worth it all, God our lives are for You, we live out this holy pursuit." No matter what my flesh wants to think or feel, we have been called to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Jesus. It's true, there's no doubt that Jesus is worth it all. He gave up what was comfortable and easy for us, and we have been called to live out the holy pursuit of following Jesus no matter what it costs us. God is working in me to rid me of my desire to be comfortable. I've got a long way to go, but God has always been faithful to provide what we need at the right time. He is always enough. I'm praying for the opportunity to see deeper into the people who come to the cookout tomorrow. I'm praying for God to give me the right things to say, and show me how to love unconditionally the way He loves us.