“We’re learning about how to be nice to immigrants and refugees,” I said in my simplified, mommy voice. It was the first thing that came to my mind. The words smacked the air and left me cringing.
And she understood in 3 seconds what we’d been hashing over and tweeting about for 3 days. But, being a bridge-builder shouldn’t be another program or book or case study.
Friends, I fear we’ve made it complex.
Maybe we adults do that to distract ourselves from the actual doing of it, or to justify our lifestyles and priorities, or because we worship intellectualism and the clean lines of hierarchy it produces. Or because we prefer our politics over the words of our Savior. Or, maybe because the simplicity of it is maddening and, like grace, it must be accepted rather than analyzed. To be honest, I prefer to analyze and I kind of like conferences and such.
But, Jesus said it best when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). Those provocative words have produced small libraries of discussion, conferences, and debates. Who is the neighbor? And what does it mean to love? And what does as yourself really mean?
I don’t know with certainty what it all means. But, for me, it meant that tonight I walked across the street and sat cross-legged in a stifling apartment filled far beyond fire code for a birthday party. I ate a bunch of food I didn’t recognize and can’t pronounce. I didn’t understand what was going on most of the time. But, I wouldn’t miss a chance to get to know this young family more.
Friends, I don’t know if that’s loving your neighbor or not. But, I’m going to error on the side of being simple and just assume that Jesus meant to walk across some streets, hug some friends, show up, share food, and celebrate together.
Yes, maybe what Jesus really meant was this: Love your neighbor.
Love them into “us” – bring them into your circles and your home and your life.
It may not require another expensive Christian conference. Maybe it’s not about reading another stellar book, listening to a podcast, or retweeting another how-to article (as much as I enjoy all those).
Let’s just do this: Open up our doors and our lives. Let’s pray for the motivation to care more about the people around us. Let’s look for the tiny islands all about us and work to get them connected. Then, we can gather up our babies and race across. Let’s invite people in. Care for them. Eat together. Level the ground. Be real.
Because, in my experience anyway, understanding comes through obedience.
And as we obey, we are given greater insight and guidance. Until we take a simple step of obedience, all the analysis in the world can only fill our heads and give us a more educated excuse.
This month’s series is on being a bridge-builder. In short, it’s about how to be like certain individuals who let God show up in their words and deeds and forever changed our little family. But, it’s not a series about our story; it’s as series about how Redemption made our story useful, even valuable, in a greater story.
If Jay and I know anything about being a bridge-builder, it’s because we were the ones stuck on an island. If we understand anything about the power of meeting people where they are and standing in the gap, it’s because that’s how we were rescued – by God, through average people.