Dear Christian, Love Where You Live

I want to encourage you no matter where you live (and for no matter how long you’re there) to do this one thing.

Jesus Christ calls us as his followers to love our neighbors. The people he had in mind weren’t those who shared our view of the family, sexual ethics, religion, or the economy. Our neighbors include the very people who sometimes get on our nerves. Jesus even took it a step further when he said that his followers were obligated to love their enemies. To pray for those who treated them spitefully.

 

I pastor a church in Southern California. California has been the subject of criticism from conservatives for a number of years, but especially in recent days, I sense that my home State is near to being declared unclean by many Christians who live here. Tired of the taxes, restrictions, and progressive ideologies; Christians are flocking to their own “safe spaces” where conservative values are still upheld.

Believers in Jesus Christ are free to come and go as they please. As a pastor, I try to encourage friends to consider several factors when making a big decision like moving out of State. What are your primary motives (are you fleeing from something, or called somewhere)? How will the move affect your family? How will it affect your church? Are there solid churches nearby where you’ll be moving, or is your Christian fellowship going to be strained by the decision? Our Lord Jesus gives us a great deal of liberty when it comes to these decisions, but there’s much to consider along the way.

I want to encourage you no matter where you live (and for no matter how long you’re there) to do one thing, though: Love where you live. Jesus Christ calls us as his followers to love our neighbors. The people he had in mind weren’t those who shared our view of the family, sexual ethics, religion, or the economy. Our neighbors include the very people who sometimes get on our nerves. Jesus even took it a step further when he said that his followers were obligated to love their enemies. To pray for those who treated them spitefully.

Loving the Place Means Loving the People

I fear that the more time we spend complaining about where God has us, the less time we’ll spend loving the people God has placed around us. In fact, I’d say it’s impossible to do a good job loving the neighbors you frequently grumble about. Now, this doesn’t mean we can’t disagree with the world around us. Our Lord Jesus was without compromise in his engagement of the world, but he wasn’t without compassion. He disagreed with the same people he sat around the table with over a meal. In the Gospels, it seems he spent more time chastising the religious institution that failed to pursue sinners than he did lamenting the presence of sinners in Judea. They were the mission field, he was the physician. The fields are white today, and instead of heading into the harvest, we complain about the sick.

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