BY WILL FOSTER
A few months ago I started realizing that I was equating attendance at church on Sunday and at a midweek church group with my desire to be, “living in community." Something didn't seem right. Something was missing. It had been a priority to surround myself with Christians, but I was totally wrong. I was secluding myself from the world that God created.
I have been thinking and meditating a lot on how Jesus lived according to the Bible. I've been stuck in it for over the last year. I haven’t always had my head in the Bible, but I realized that I had been ignoring the world around me. The very world that Jesus walked and lived in. The very world that He died for. The most intriguing statement to me that Jesus made was the greatest commandment, to love God and love people.
What does that mean?
In a city full of introverts, famously known for its “Seattle Freeze,” and for keeping people out by saying that it “rains all the time,” it’s obvious that many in Seattle are not interested in reaching out. It’s a city of convenience and elitism, and if you don’t have anything to offer you’ll feel ignored and abandoned. Such is life.
What does it take to get beyond the barriers? How did Jesus live in his community? How do we love like Jesus did?
From the beginning of the gospels until the end Jesus brought people together. It’s an epic love and rescue story. He not only performed miracles, but He also lived life with people just like us. He continued to pursue them regardless of where they were in life. You see him constantly surrounded by people who have done horrible things and people who have done nothing at all. He loved--not to be loved, but because it was his pleasure to love others.
Desiring to explore this, I've decided to offer myself up to the neighborhood that I live in. It has made a lot of decisions difficult, but a majority of the time I've not only seen fruit from sacrifice, but I've met some amazing people and have learned much from very unexpected sources.
Being known in my community or by the neighborhood I live in wasn't something I had in mind when I moved to Seattle. I am fine with a small group of friends. I've often felt uncomfortable because I am by no means a perfect human. However, I'm finding that no one expects me to be.
This has brought me amazing friends with very different ways of thinking. It has helped open my eyes and I have learned a lot by making myself available to others, taking my guard down. There’s something magical about laughing about myself and the church with people who proclaim to be atheist, and then, with that same person, to have a down-to-earth conversation about how Jesus actually lived. It's a beautiful thing to simply be authenticate with other humans, to listen to and love others whether or not we share the same worldview.
Recently, I started a weekly meet-up at a local bar and have been inviting whomever reads my posts every week. I invite them to come out and spend quality dialogue time with people they've never met. Some come alone and others bring friends, but we all leave the evening with new friends. It’s awesome to see people come together in a city that’s known for shutting down relationships.
What are ways that you are getting to know your neighbors and your neighborhood? How are you learning to love? How else might you continue to grow in these things?