A few years ago while having lunch with a friend my friend asked me,
“Why is it that Christians are always inviting me to their stuff. They invite me to their services, their events, their programs, their classes, their church buildings, and the list goes on and on. I don’t get it. They always invite me into their world but they never want to step into mine. What’s up with that?”
At this point my stomach sank. I honestly didn't know what to say. The only thing I could initially come up with was an apology.
I went on to confess that we “Christians” somewhere along the way had missed the Jesus of the Gospels. Jesus did not expect us to enter into His world; rather, He did the exact opposite. He came into ours.
It still makes me cringe to think that my friend, and probably others who are not yet Christ followers, have this impression of “Christians.” This shouldn't be.
As followers of Jesus we must embrace the Incarnation, step out of our worlds, and enter into the worlds of those around us. We must incarnate into our neighborhoods, workplaces, schools, & other social spaces we inhabit.
In the book Untamed, Deb Hirsch writes,
“God became a man not only in order to identify with us (presence), but also to live with and among us! He was no recluse, keeping a safe distance; he literally immersed himself in people. Much of his time was spent just hanging out and getting to know the people around him. Jesus didn't expect people to come to where he was, as we so often do, but rather went to them. He hung out in their social spaces, markets, and synagogues, and visited their homes. In other words, he came into direct proximity; he was near to them.
Likewise, we need to reflect this in our own lives. Too many Christians "hang out" only with other Christians and in environments frequented by other Christians. If we are to follow Jesus, we need to make intentional choices to move out of our religious zones and be where the people are. It will require that we come into direct social contact with others and become a regular part of the natural rhythms of their community.“
The next time you think about inviting someone to your church service stop and ask, “Have I taken the first step to enter into this person’s world?”
In the spirit of Christmas, live as Jesus. Make an intentional decision to enter into the world of those in your neighborhood, and as you do, enter with a posture of humility and love. See those in your neighborhood in the same way Jesus sees them; as people who have been created in His image, who are loved, and who have value to bring to us and the world.
Here are a few ways you can enter into the world of those in your neighborhood:
- Apologize to a neighbor for not really knowing them.
- Meet a new neighbor. Share a meal with a family in your neighborhood.
- Attend a neighborhood Christmas Party.
- Join a preexisting group in your neighborhood.
- Ask a neighbor for help with holiday chores.
- Consider having a Christmas Eve party in your neighborhood and invite your neighbors. Have great wine, wonderful food, and be with those in the places you have been sent.