For the Sake of My Neighbor

Every morning I receive an email that is essentially SparkNotes for the news. This has been a really helpful tool for keeping up with current events, but for the past year, it has also been really helpful in putting me in a state of lament before I even leave bed.

It’s so easy to be bogged down by how broken our world is—natural disasters raging in all the corners of the globe, corruption of power permeating our politics and culture, nasty, thoughtless words splashed across social media. It makes me sad. It makes me tired.

But here is what I am holding on to tighter and tighter these days: I am not a citizen of this world. I am a citizen of the kingdom.

No, this doesn’t fix anything in the far reaches of the world. No, this does not bring relief to the suffering brought to light in my inbox every morning. But here is what knowing that does:

Being a citizen of the kingdom of God brings to light what I can do in my sphere of influence. It reminds me that peace does not start out in Spain or Iraq—it starts in my home. It allows me to extend grace to an acquaintance online who’s words may seem narrow to me, and instead gives me the opportunity to pray for them and perhaps ask a question out of love. It calls for me to encourage, challenge, and care about what is happening in the spaces I frequent with the people who mean something to me.

Joining the kingdom allows me to think on my neighbor in ways that help him flourish. It gives me eyes to see those who are other than me and find ways to love them in a manner that helps and doesn’t harm. It allows me to experience compassion and forgiveness so that I may then go out and extend it.

Yes, these days feel dark and hope sometimes far off. Oh, do I feel that, friend. But we have been placed where we are for a reason! We interact with the same people on a regular basis. We frequent the same places routinely. These places are our mission fields! These people are the ones we are called to serve with grace and compassion! Sometimes this means listening—really listening—to those we don’t agree with. Sometimes this looks like donating household items you aren’t using for refugees relocating to your area. Sometimes this is as simple as dropping to your knees and praying for your community.

Whatever it looks like, let’s do it. Let’s take our place in the kingdom.

Participating in the kingdom feels small and ordinary and sometimes not enough, but it is what I am called to and a way I can actually make a difference. And the same is true of you.

So where will you bring peace, hope, and love today?

If you’d like to read more on this concept, I highly recommend You are What You Love by James K.A. Smith or Practices of Love: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life of the World by Kyle David Bennet.

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