It doesn’t matter what your community looks like. Perhaps you live in a gated community. Maybe it’s a farming community. You could have been born and raised there or you could be new in town. It could be that you love where you live or not. None of that really matters.
When the children of Israel were in exile, God had a word for them on how they were to conduct themselves. Keep in mind that this was definitely not home for them and they didn’t want to be there.
Seek the welfare of the city I have deported you to. Pray to the Lord on its behalf, for when it has prosperity, you will prosper. (Jeremiah 29:7 HCSB)
We are to love our communities. We are to seek the welfare of the places God has placed us. Here are three ways we can claim our communities for Christ.
A – Accept that unbelievers are going to act like unbelievers.
Seriously, friends, can we stop acting appalled and clutching our pearls when those who don’t know Christ act unChristlike? It is not our job to play the Holy Spirit. We will never guilt someone into accepting God’s grace.
I live in a community filled to overflowing with people struggling with brokenness. Many of them cling to the very thing that brings them pain, not because it’s fun, but because it’s familiar. They are afraid to pursue something different because what if, in the end, this really is all that life has to offer? Let’s be honest; that’s a real possibility.
Claiming our communities for Christ may just mean engaging someone who uses language we wouldn’t use. It most likely means getting to know someone who looks, thinks or acts quite differently from us. We have to get to know them so that they can get to know Him.
B – Be present in your community.
Let me be clear. I am an introvert’s introvert. I could, quite happily, spend the vast majority of my time in my home. Crowds make me nervous and, quite honestly, strangers make me anxious. So, when we moved to a small community about a year ago, I was nervous. New people. New places. New opportunities for rejection.
I am surrounded by poverty, addiction and a multitude of things I can’t fix. It has caused a lot of frustration for me. I don’t always understand what I’m doing here. Then, a couple weeks ago, I felt the Lord calm my spirit and say, “You’re over thinking this. I just want you to be present.”
I had to ask myself, “If I were to leave this community tomorrow, will my presence have made a difference?” I’m choosing to be present. I have scheduled checking my mailbox around when I knew a certain person walked by my house so that I could meet her. I made chocolate covered strawberries and delivered them to some ladies in town. I plan my walks around the neighborhood to pass by those folks I know will be sitting on their porches or in their yards. I’ve had neighborhood children into my home and baked birthday cakes for their mamas.
They’re small things, but not really.
C – Casseroles, Cakes, and Cookies, oh my!
Scripture tells us that love covers a multitude of sins. I’m here to tell you that so does cream of chicken soup. You take love and a good casserole and you have an opening into almost anyone’s life.
Look around your community. Who haven’t you met? Who, ahem, have you purposely not met? There isn’t any judgment here, friends. I have a list of people and a list of recipes. I’m setting a goal to meet some of them and I’m bringing food with me. A chocolate chip cookie never offended anyone. If you don’t believe me, you need to make these.
They’re divine; don’t forget to take some to that person on your list. I’m convinced that food, fellowship, and friendship are essential to claiming our communities for Christ.
What have you done in your community?
You are loved. <3