Living downtown is hands down the most diverse and colorful place we've ever lived. In our neighborhood you can find everything from small non profits to an exotic art house. It's common to see a family of 6 squished into a one bedroom shack that's neighboring a gorgeously remodeled historic bungalow. This street is home to people of all races, backgrounds and social groups. If there were any minority at all it would be a white Christian family with small children. Which is why I get asked a lot what made us come to the decision to move our family here.
I think by default people naturally gravitate towards what we know and what we're comfortable with. Most of us tend to surround ourselves with people who believe and think the same way we do. But when I look at Jesus, I see Him going beyond barriers. He knows that to reach people he has to go into their world. He wasn't a commuter. He came down and moved in. He fully engaged the culture by serving and loving the people who least expected to be loved. I think that's what we're supposed to be doing and that's why we decided to move our family here.
I'm not a great writer or speaker. I get incredibly anxious if I have to speak in front of large groups. I have more examples of woulda coulda shoulda moments than times I actually had the courage to do something. In fact one of the reasons why I wanted to move to the thick of it was because most of the time I felt completely insulated in church, bible study and Christendom. I'd hear about suffering on Sunday but it was easy for me to go home and become distracted and forget. When you're surrounded by it daily there's no forgetting. That may not be your story but it's definitely mine.
I'm far from perfect. But one reason why I'm so in love with Jesus is that He doesn't look for perfect people. He looks for available people. He doesn't look for famous stars, he uses obedient servants. We just have one job- live life in a way that really demonstrates what you believe. People should know we are His followers because of our love and love looks like service. Every time I sit down and talk to someone on the street I never hear them go on about the breakfast burrito they received or the blanket. I mostly hear them talk about how no one ever really cares to sit, look them in the eye and listen to their story and hug them and love them. I always think about if Jesus was walking the earth right now I believe we'd find Him on the streets because there are plenty of lost and hurting people there and not enough workers.
I'm always so surprised at how many times I'm discouraged from doing homeless ministry even by people who love Jesus. They say they are on drugs or just need to get a job and somehow that makes them less deserving. No matter the circumstance, their soul is just as important as mine. There's a verse by Beautiful Eulogy that says, "If God wiped out the wicked the whole earth would be vacant." It's so true, we're all deserving of judgment and the amazing thing is not that God saves some and not others, its that He saves any of us!
Stephen and I often look at each other and say, "I can't believe we get to live this life!" Not that its comfortable or where we ever dreamed of being. But because we've never been more full of joy. It's this adventure of not knowing what the heck we're doing but creating opportunities for God to display Himself to us. The everyday fresh experience of His love comes when we're serving and loving the least of these like He said to. We don't just learn more about Him from a curriculum but by doing we experience HIM in the process.
What I've learned so far is this- I don't know what God's doing or why He's doing it. But I know that the gospel was meant to be given away, and that the only way the culture is going to change is if we get involved with their world and live out what we believe. Matt 5:13-16
[ Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. ] 1 John 4:7-12