Tuesday, June 12, 2007

on the hook

because of the pace and design of life currently in the u.s., as a culture we are more separate and distant from the people closest to us, and by that i mean geographical proximity.  certainly gone are the days when we would leave our doors unlocked and chat with our neighbors or even share meals and care for one another's children.  it is a divided life that leaves many lonely (an epidemic in the west), those who have everything but friends and a sense of belonging.

we've been thinking about this issue as we are reading a book about spirituality and mission in the neighborhood by a professor here in melbourne, simon carey holt.  his book is titled "god next door" and it is one of the best books on this subject we've read.  in it, he returns our sights to our immediate surroundings and reminds us of echoes throughout scripture to "love thy neighbor."  this book has re-inspired us to embrace the ordinary things of life as the very medium through which god usually works and to think about our vocation as missionaries more seriously through the lense of our street in lexington, kentucky.  more than anything, we've felt on the hook to be light and love to the people nearest to us.  below is one of many great passages from this book:

"Certainly the proposition that neighbourhoods are an important context for faith is much easier to dismiss than to take seriously.  We simply don't have the time.  What's more in the name of ministry we spend even more time moving from one place to another, most commonly from home to church or from one set of relationships to the next.  Ministry is that thing we do elsewhere. Yet, the conclusion that neighbourhood is irrelevant to our lives and, more particularly, our Christian calling is more a result of cultural conditioning than it is a biblical response to the call of God.

God's call is a call to place.  When Jesus bids us, 'Come, follow me!' he doesn't call us into the ether, or even into the whole world for that matter.  He calls us into particular places that we can see, walk, smell and inhabit.  God's call is not a call to be everywhere; it's a call to be somewhere...We are made to inhabit...the call of God is to be in a particular place and there to embody the presence and grace of God.  It's a call to locality.  Quite simply, it's a call to the neighborhood."

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