as they are because they are

Now comes the hard one. We’ve been building to it.

Loving your community. That’s your neighbours, your co-workers, the man experiencing homelessness you pass every day. This is the hard one but in all honesty probably the most important. This is the one we’re called to. This is the space to which Jesus teaching should take us to. This is the great commission.

We will spend a LOT of time in this space.

To step back for a moment, I don’t think this is new. We know who Jesus hung out with. We know who he’s called us to connect with. That said, this is the space we so often struggle in. This is the space we make excuses in. This is the space we wish we knew HOW to do.

As we do here, a story.

Sarah and I wanted to be more involved in our community. We actually sat in our living room and said ‘so what exactly do we do?’. Sure we wanted to love people and get involved but HOW do we do it?

We decided on a community party. We’d go door to door and personally invite all our neighbours to come to a neighbourhood party. We’d have all the food, all the drinks, everything. All they would need to do is come.

To be honest we were worried.

One, going door to door makes me feel outrageously uncomfortable. But we thought it need to be personal and not just a letter in their door if we could. So we did it. I felt super uncomfortable the entire time but we did it.

Two, I was worried that everyone would think there was some ulterior motive. And not just some ‘thanks everyone for coming. If it’s ok I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about an investment opportunity…’ type ulterior motive.

No I was worried people would think ‘I think that’s that Christian couple. I bet they’re going to try and convert us or tell us we have to go to church or that we’re bad people or something. You know bait us in with free beer then tell us we’re all sinners going to hell for drinking the beer.’

I don’t know if it sounds ridiculous to you but I was honestly worried.

I was worried because the church has really screwed this one up. People are projects not people. People are a means to an end, a gold start for saving a soul. I was worried people wouldn’t believe that we honestly just wanted to get to know them.

I was worried that people wouldn’t believe that for Sarah and I they are our end. Getting to know them, building an honest, real relationship was our goal. Not to convert them or tell them how they should be living but to just get to know them enough that we could start actually loving them.

So the day came and despite it raining we had a good turnout. It was good enough that we did it again at Christmas. Was a super awkward start?

YUP!

But we met new people, shared some drinks, laughs, stories and had a ton of fun!

Yes this compassion in community is big and there’s a lot more to see but it looks like action. It looks like love. The life of compassion in relation to our community is us in relationship with our community. Not set apart but embedded in. Not distant but close. Not judgement but love and grace.

We get into the messiness of our community, our neighbour, co-workers and the man experiencing homelessness on the street. We do it because we’re disciples. We do it because we want to love everyone like Jesus loves us, as we are because we are. Not a project to be fixed or some goal to be accomplished but a person to be loved just as they are with no expectations of anything in return or any change from them.

We do it because that’s our call and our commission.

We do it because we are striving to live a life of compassion.

home church in action

This should be easy right? The church, for all its flaws, cares about those in its community really well, right? We love and share and comfort really well, right?

Well I think we can all agree that our call to love each other in the church is clear. We know it. I doubt anyone is surprised by the statement ‘you should love and care for the people in your home church’.

Moreover if asked I suspect we all think we do.

But be honest, it’s not always there is it? You’ve gone home and said ‘wow, I really thought they would care more about me losing my job/ family member passing/ tough week at work/ frustrating child’.

There is nothing wrong with those feelings. I bring it up to say that despite our best intentions we fail some times. We don’t love those in our community that we see in need the way we maybe should.

Sometimes we just don’t get it.

I found one of the greatest supports to me when I lost my job a few years ago were other people who had lost their job. They got how embarrassing it was. They understood how emotionally difficult it was to send out resume after resume and hear nothing back, essentially being reject 10, 15, 20 times a day. No one wanted me and only people who had been though it saw that pain right away.

So yes, we will miss, we won’t understand and we won’t love maybe the way we should. It happens even though it shouldn’t. I don’t want to focus on that this time though. I just wanted to say to those who feel it, I understand. But all we can control is what we do. All we can do is be the ones to start the love.

This story isn’t about the times we didn’t know better, understand the situation or act the way we should. This is a fantastic story of love.

Like I said I’m going to share stories I hear from different places about how amazing our community is. This is one.

A home church was sitting chatting near the end of a meeting. It was an unexpectedly small group of people that evening. The conversation drifted here and there. How do we love others, what does it look like, etc.

Then someone said ‘look it’s all fine and well, but we have lots of need here, in this group. I was talking last week with one of our members and she mentioned how they wouldn’t be having much of a Christmas this year. Moneys to tight and the kids may not get anything.’

And in that moment the group understood. Weather they knew it or not they chose to live the life of compassion. The conversation quickly turned to, well then what do WE do. Not some conversation about the theology of God providing or praying for someone to come and help. What do WE, her community, do?

‘We have some gift cards’ one family said.

‘I could run to the bank and get some money’ said another.

And that was it. They gave it all to one of the ladies present to pass along.

Love in action.

That’s a life of compassion. That’s how we love in community. A need was seen and a need was met.

How do we live a life of compassion in home church? Honest real interactions, bearing our joys and difficulties and as a family coming around our members to love them. Not talking about it but doing it.

Actions of love.

That’s how a life of compassion works in home church. Like all other spaces, in action.

compassion at home

This week we’re going to look at three areas that we hope this life of compassion will begin to work in; family, home church, community. I’ll come back to this gimmick often because I think it’s helpfully to look at how this works in the many different facets of life.

Today we’re looking at family and we won’t go any further than my own home for this one.

My wife Sarah is a great example.

What does compassion look like in a family? It looks like Sarah.

Here’s what we try (a far heavier emphasis on the try for me than Sarah but I’m getting better).

Sarah puts me first. Not just in certain things or in small things but in basically everything Sarah puts me first. As opposed to it being the oddity it’s the norm.

I try to do the same but I honestly don’t think I’m anywhere close to as good at it as she is. But because we love each other we try really hard to always put the other first.

Again what does that look like and why is it important?

It’s important because if the other members of the family are always trying to put you first you don’t have to ask or demand for what you ‘deserve’. You don’t have to say things like ‘I work all day long I just need a break’ or ‘I wish someone would just help me with this.’

Instead you’ll get what you deserve and more.

It’s Sarah saying to me ‘you’ve had a long day go watch TV’ even after she’s had a long day too. It’s Sarah collecting the garbage, even though it’s my job (we’ve divide up the house work so nothing get missed). It’s Sarah saying ‘I’ve got Nolan tonight’ even after she’s had him all day long.

But why the system works is because I clean the washrooms, even though it’s her job.

I don’t have to demand or state how deserving I am of a day to sleep in. Sarah graciously offers them to me. But it works because I do the same back.

It works because when I hear Sarah tidying I help. I could not help and Sarah wouldn’t be upset at all. But I try to put her first so I go and help.

And it’s a balance. You have to be willing to accept the grace and love from the others. I may get up to and help Sarah tidy but she may also say ‘it’s ok I’ve got this just sit’. We’re both putting the other first. I may be doing the dishes after dinner and tell Sarah ‘go read I’ve got this’ even after she’s started to help. Neither takes advantage of the other. We know what each other needs and we put those needs before our own.

Or at least that’s the goal. I’ve got more than a few stories of miss steps on this one.

If everyone is trying to always put the other members first it’s a loving, gracious, generous home to be in.

Try as a whole family to put everyone else before yourself. You worry about them and they’ll worry about you.