7 Days of Reflections
I think I might get myself into some trouble with this post. (That’s never a good way to start something, is it!?!?!)
So our family just moved into Ace House #2, literally one block off the park in our south MPLS Powderhorn community. We’ve been in for one week and because we’ve been living like cavemen without television (might be a good thing, actually) and internet came just yesterday, we’ve had quite a bit of time to reflect on things. (It’s been quite the crazy last four weeks, not a shortage of things to think about…).
I’m one to (1) number things and (2) vomit out thoughts without really thinking. (The latter gets me into trouble, just ask my beautiful bride…). Cheers to late-night thinkpuke.
(1) I remember the last conversation I had with one of my neighbors, telling him that we’d be renting out our suburban home next to his and moving to the southside. After explaining the situation, his first words were absolute gold: “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You mean, you are moving your family to go live alongside those poor people?”
I respect his remarks. They were raw and honest, and at least he had the guts to say what he was thinking. (While the vast majority of people have been supportive of this transition in my life, I have gotten the vibe from some that they were probably thinking along my neighbor’s lines.)
Those poor people? Hm….
One of the things that fascinated me about these remarks was that it was coming from a guy claiming to know and follow Christ. I will absolutely reserve any and all judgments on that, except to say that I think many of us who do claim to know and follow Christ can be so easily blinded by the type of life our Lord calls us to.
(Note: I am NOT saying we’re all to move to the city–although some of you should!!–I am saying that sometimes we tend to sugarcoat what following Jesus Christ can mean for us.)
His remarks should act as a red flag for Christians to check our blindspots. There are things in our hearts and minds that creep up on us. Things that we think or say or do without really thinking about (like this post?!?!?!). And we don’t realize we’re in danger, oftentimes, until we’re too late. Because they were in our blindspots. We all have ’em, what’s yours?
(2) I will not say “move here” (athough, again, some of you should honestly and prayerfully consider it), but my encouragement at the very least is this: be intentional about spending some time here. And here’s one simple reason: When I get out of my homogeneous suburban neighborhood and into the city (or this part of the city anyway), and when I see all these different kinds of people out and about walking the streets everyday, I get a glimpse of God’s kingdom.
Every tongue, every tribe, every nation….
We’re all itching to get glimpses into God’s Kingdom, and if I were a betting man, I’d be willing to say that God’s Kingdom is going to look a whole lot more like South MPLS than where I came from. That’s cool to think about. That’s refreshing. Come check it out for yourself…..
(3) Moving from one amusing ex-neighbor comment to another, I was recently asked, “So, what’s it like down there?” (“There” is another one of those words, like “those,” that I don’t like too much!)
Now, I have to take a step back to say here that I had been asking that same question all my life. (And, looking back, completely ashamed of it too!) Growing up and saying that I would NEVER live on/near Chicago/Lake, much less driving by, I have been one of “those” people. (Oops, I said it.)
What is it like down there?
Well, seven days in, I’ve got just a few things that I can actually share to this conversation/question in case you’ve also been wondering:
- Water is taken from the tap, and used for cooking and drinking.
- People tend to lock their doors at night or when they’re not home.
- A lot of yards are decorated with your favorite (or least favorite) political signage.
- Packers and Vikings fans coexist, except on Sundays.
- The sky is still blue and the sun still shines here.
Part of this move has forced Em and I to downsize our “stuff”–like those crystal bowls from our wedding. (Sorry, donor, they’re gone!) There’s only so much space in our house, what do we absolutely need, and what can we live without?
Let’s do some personal downsizing. There’s only so much space in our lives and in our time and in our energies and in our hearts, what do we absolutely need, and what can we live without? What is toxic, what is unnecessary? Where are our blindspots? What looks good to the world, but is dead when it comes to our relationship to Jesus Christ? (Not too far off from those crystal bowls….)
At the end of the day, we all need Jesus. And we all should be doing whatever it takes to allow the Spirit to work in our hearts, challenge us, stretch us, refine us.
The word that stuck out most to me from the comments from ex-neighbor #1 was not “poor” or “stupid” or anything of the sorts; it was “those.”
THOSE poor people. “Those” implies exclusivity. It draws lines between superiority and inferiority. Smells of shame or embarrassment. Pride.
Jesus never used the “those”–at least in context to the poor or broken or marginalized. Downsizing in your life might be drastic, but it might be as simple and small and subtle as changing that “o” to an “e”….
Whatever you do to the least of these, you did unto me.