So, yesterday in church we were talking about the Great Commission and what that means for us, today. Practicalities. What each of us as individuals can do to make the world a better place; how we can be Christ to others. And, the excuses for why we don't.
After church I pretty much forgot about the discussion. Until this morning on the way to work. As I was driving down the street the school is on, the state of the neighborhood shocked me. I guess I have been driving down the street with blinders on all year. What really hit me was a house with a FOR RENT sign in the front yard. "WHO would want to rent that dump?" I thought......
Now, keep in mind it wasn't all that long ago that I lived in this very neighborhood. For fifteen years. We had a modest house, a good-sized yard, and relatively good neighbors. And then, the neighborhood changed. Quite rapidly. We stuck it out for a couple more years. After all, the kids could walk to school; I could walk to the store and we had just finished our basement. But suddenly I became uncomfortable there. With the type of people the neighborhood was attracting. The fact that most were immigrants, many illegal, living two or three families to a house, the fact that they didn't care what their house, or yard looked like. The fact that I didn't understand them, or their culture, or their poverty. I didn't get that they were just trying to get ahead and make life for their families better. Trying to scrounge up a piece of the American Dream. And truth be told, I looked at the bottom line - would I be able to sell my house and still make a profit? I mean we were rapidly losing value weren't we?
We put the house on the market. I remember sitting on my porch one day, wrestling with the fact that I was doing that. That I was not content with my present circumstances. That my neighbors didn't have that option. How I was one to talk about going to another country to work with the poor on a mission trip, when here the poor and needy were coming to MY NEIGHBORHOOD! I struggled with it. It nagged at me. Stay here and be hands and feet to those in need? Or move to where my kids felt safe, and not looked down on for were they resided. I weighed my feelings and my family against what could possible be an opportunity to love and minister to those around me. And my family won. Well, in one sense of the word. But they lost even more. There were great teaching opportunities there. A chance for my kids to see Jesus in action. A chance to teach them that life wasn't all about them.
I look at people now that live in comfort and prosperity, who sell their homes, pick up their families and move to the inner city, or neighborhoods like the one I lived in. I missed the boat. We were already there. And I couldn't wait to get out.....
Within a week our house sold and we packed up and moved to a more "acceptable" neighborhood. Hey - I was only looking out for my kids, right?
So - would I make the same choice today? Have I learned anything? I would like to think that I would do things differently, but honestly, I don't know. This is part of my ongoing struggle to love. To be Jesus to a hurting world.
Just not in my backyard.....