Last weekend Kristen and I volunteered to help with a clean-up project in our neighborhood. I should clarify… Kristen volunteered and I tagged along.
As we were raking and hauling load after load of sticks, rotting organic matter, homeless paraphernalia, and pine needles to a 10 yard bin to be hauled away I got to thinking…
In some ways, as an American, it’s pretty easy to wrap your mind around a short-term mission trip. (I’m a huge fan of short-term missions!) In a way… it’s quite a bit harder to maintain a posture that living in your neighborhood is a long-term missions project.
Let’s unpack that…
We live in a society where affinity is king. We chose to see the things we chose to see because we like something. But things that we don’t care about we just don’t see. Our eyes see so many things on a daily basis that we tune almost everything out or else we’d go mad from overstimulation.
So, by default, we look after our own preferences as a primary thing. Things that we have an affinity for get unlimited attention. And we look after everything else as a secondary.
But, as Christians, we are children of a Kingdom where proximity is king. Jesus didn’t say, “Love the people you have something in common with as yourself.” He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Each day we have to fight what our culture has taught us from infancy. Sometimes we need to divert our eyes to ignore the things we have an affinity for in order to see the things as a neighbor.
Jesus is asking us to empathize with the needs of our neighborhood.