The group of people that I meet with on a regular basis to learn about life and Jesus (see cell) will be exploring some of the below ideas tomorrow night. So if you're in that group and you're reading, you may want to wait until tomorrow. For the rest of you...feedback is always appreciated...
I've been exploring what it means to be the church where you live as of late. Both here and in places such as my living room, I've argued that location is important. Where you choose to live is ultimately of great significance to manifesting the Kingdom in the here and now. While some people feel the need to perpetually wander, I think the call of the gospel is to ultimately grow roots in a location where God can use you to change your world. Jesus moved into the neighborhood as an act of downward mobility...he's our model.
"But," it's been argued (perhaps you are prone to argue this way, too), "Paul was constantly on the move." Agreed, but please note three things...
1) After giving himself to Jesus, Paul ended up staying in Arabia for at least 3 years and then Tarsus for 8 or 9 years. I'd imagine that means some roots.
2) When Paul arrived in a city, it wasn't like a week long missions trip or a tent revival. He stayed around for a while...weeks, months, sometimes years. He had to walk the bulk of his "missionary trips" - 1550 miles from Jerusalem to Rome. If it's me, I sticking around to let my legs recover (which makes you wonder if Paul sat while he taught both Jews and Gentiles about Jesus) . Modern travel has surely changed the way we view Paul's travels.
3) When Paul does leave a city, most of the time it's because he is forced out and the rest of the time it's because he's leaving for a totally Spirit-directed purpose.
Now, I'm surely willing to allow room for those who are Spirit-directed to a nomadic lifestyle that furthers the kingdom (see Psalters), but I'm still going to argue that location and growing roots is important. I think that's a fair assessment of the call on our lives as followers of Jesus. We can't be the church if we're never around long enough to be.
There are a number of difficulties that arise in relation to this groundedness. I want to focus on one such difficulty.
The is great difficulty in being the church where you live when you come face to face with people who don't want you to be the church. Now obviously, you have no choice. You follow Jesus. You are the church. No one can really stop you from being who you are. But what do we do with that resistance?
The neighbor that pretty much ignores you because you love Jesus and he thinks that's weird? What do you do?
The sister-in-law who had a bad church experience growing up and is repulsed by all Christians to the point where she goes on the attack of Christianity at every family function - even when the topic at hand isn't really Jesus at all. What do you do?
The friend who is in pain and believes that God has let him down - who has lived such a private life of, "it's just me and God" that he doesn't know how to respond to you when you reach out to help as a member of his community (AKA: the church, the body of Christ) so he lashes out. What do you do?
What do you do when someone doesn't want you to be the church? Because I'm the church whether they like it or not. And I sorta want to make sure they like it...it's just so good.
What about you? You are the church...what do you do when someone doesn't want you to be the church?