It's curious, isn't it - that of all the world-changing things that Jesus; God in skin-clothes, did - He classified them ALL as second to this: "love your neighbor as yourself".
Honestly, I've never really been a fan of that answer Jesus gave. For most of my life, I've identified more with the cheeky guy who asked the original question "what do I really need to do to have eternal life" than I have with Jesus' ability to live the answer. [Luke 10.29]
Something about that invitation just didn't sit well in my heart. (Now that the old me is learning how to die to the Real Me, I'm starting to see that it's because I didn't see myself as worthy of value; worth His love. It's kind of hard to love your neighbor as yourself if you own a lifestyle in which you don't even like yourself. Just sayin'...from experience).
So, why does this matter?
Well - the language; and, much more importantly, the style of living here is definitively designed around this decision: to choose to love messy, human, neighbors.
In EVERY minute.
For our team, choosing that love in the past few days has looked like all kinds of things.
It's looked like helping three precious ladies relocate to homes on base (packing and loading and unloading and arranging missionary furniture - and, most importantly, hearing those missional hearts).
Some days, it's looked like tutoring children, or even just sitting (or dancing) on some old carpet on Farish St; playing simple games, and speaking anything-but-simple value into the rising generation of Jackson.
Sometimes, it looks like our team rallying around the precious people who have chosen to live in this city - praying for and encouraging these brave front-most of front-lines souls.
Sometimes it's kind of glamorous; like sipping delicious, first-world coffee from the storefront that We Will Go opened on one of the most notably raunchy streets in Jackson - where neighbors can gather safely.
Sometimes it's the kind of glamorous where we get to share what we're learning how to live with members of the long-term missionary team; when all of us hang out to eat pizza and practice hearing our sweet Dad's voice while laughing our way through prophetic activations - or crying through our journaling questions.
And sometimes, in Jackson - loving our neighbors means waking up early to walk through this city, to wait in a food line, to eat a hot dog a local ministry served my table full of neighbors at 8:30 in the morning.
WHATEVER it is; whatever form, or location, or verbal or non-verbal response it has come through - We Will Go is giving us feet-on-the-ground training for this thing that defines so much of our Father's heart, and we are learning how to choose showing Love to our neighbors.
To show our neighbors that Love has a name - and that He knows and values the name of each of His children.
Personally, I couldn't have loved like this before school - because I didn't really know Love. I didn't know His value of me, so communicating His value of His other sweet kids was really, really hard.
Actually, it felt impossible.
And honestly, it still feels hard.
And, honestly, I hate hot dogs. That was the first one I'd eaten in so many years I've lost count.
But, even though my stomach turned a little at the thought of bringing that first bite to my mouth - it ached much more at the realization that these precious, PRECIOUS siblings of mine - my Neighbors - were delighted to have walked to a safe place for that full meal at 8:30 am.
They were honored by the known-by-name that came with those plates of plain-plus-a-ketchup-packet hot dogs.
And I was thrilled to be invited to sit at their table and eat. (But not nearly as excited as I am for the day that we're all sitting together at our Dad's table, where He's saved each of us a place. Where we'll know each other - not in the partiality of whichever chapters of our stories we're currently living, but in the fullness of who He sees we are. Where none of His children - none of my neighbors - will ever be hungry, or lost, or strung out, or broke or heartbroken, or empty or used ever again.)
Now I'm actively asking - less like the cheeky guy from the story, and more like one who is looking for the faces from my Father's heart "who is my neighbor?"
The team at We Will Go has welcomed every person in this often-forgotten city, calling each of them "neighbor", and living what Jesus calls eternal Life on this city's streets.
So, I guess what I'm asking myself (and what I'm offering you to consider) is this: who will I make room in my heart for?
Because honestly, it doesn't matter what it looks like. If it's glamorous or filthy; if it's well-marketed or tightly-scheduled or a string of spontaneous displays. It matters that we CHOOSE to share Love. Because each one of our Neighbors is one of His favorites. And His heart-dream is to SHOW them His love.
Blog written by Morgan Presley.