I don’t drive my car very often.
We are a one car family and I choose to take the trolley to work most days. I’ve learned to love the slowness of riding my bike and taking public transportation.
When I do drive it tends to be with the five of us crammed into our Passat. A fun and usually noisy experience that I’ve learned to adore.
But, the other day was different and found myself in the car alone. And I did something even more rare… I turned on the radio and surfed some channels.
I found a local station that just plays local bands. Their commericals said something like this, “Sure, we could be like everyone else and copycat the LA stations. But we’re local. We’re San Diego. We favor local music over commercial hits.”
It was cool. Fresh even. And something deep in me resonated with the knowledge that I was hearing music on the radio you wouldn’t hear on the radio anywhere else.
All of this is a movement towards local. Farmers markets have become popular across the country– a celebration of locally grown foods. Food trucks are all the rage– cooking up local eats in a way that is both local and mobile. Local food chains are a growing market. Local festivals are as strong as ever.
In the past 3-4 years people have grown a taste for all things local. And increasingly people are radically local and radically loyal to locals.
It is a pendulum swing against the rapid nationalization of the past decade. You could get a Chicago style pizza in LA. You could get buttered grits in Seattle. You could get a Krispie Kreme donut at any gas station in North America.
And for a time I think people thought that was novel and cool. But people tired of this trend quickly. It was awesome that in the same restaurant they could chose between a Texas steak, a Pad Thai, or Kansas rub BBQ ribs until they woke up to the realization that while novel, it wasn’t authentic. People began to realize that convenience was coming at the cost of destroying what made their community interesting.
And the pendulum has swung the other way.
People’s preference now shifting towards local. And people are getting radical about local. It starts with food and music. But it won’t stop there.
God’s call to become radically local
I have an assumption that God is smarter than I am. He isn’t surprised by the street I live on or who my neighbors are. I’d like to think that God has you right where He wants you for His purposes. When Jesus was asked what the Greatest Commandment was Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.”
We aren’t called to hide from our neighbors. Or pretend they don’t exist. Or justify that since our neighbors are weird or jerks or old or drunks that they aren’t the neighbors we are supposed to love.
That’s radically local. It’s too easy to focus on what we do at church or what we do when we are leading teams or what we do when people notice or even what we do to serve the greater community as “loving our neighbors.”
Loving your neighbor is often private, small, and even simple.
Simple, minor, radical local— love.