December 21, 2022
If Jesus moved into your neighborhood today, what would he do there? The way we answer this question should shape our own living for the coming year.
By now you’ve probably taken down your Christmas tree, recycled the wrapping paper, finished eating the sugary treats, and are settling in for 2023. But let’s not too quickly forget that just a few days ago we were celebrating that “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood (John 1:14 MSG)."
We have a new neighbor!
When someone moves into our Lonsdale street neighborhood, there is quite a stir among those who have lived here for decades. “Who bought that house?” “Do they have kids?” “Do they look like responsible people who will mow their lawn on a regular basis?” We watch the new neighbors more closely, trying to learn their patterns of behavior, observing the people that come and go from their house, and noting if they remember which week the recycling bin is supposed to go to the curb.
In the Go Local workshops I lead, I sometimes ask the participants to consider this question: “If Jesus moved into your neighborhood today, what would he do there?” As we enter into 2023, having just celebrated Jesus “moving into the neighborhood,” the way we answer this question should shape our own living for the coming year.
If Jesus moved into my neighborhood today, I think he would have coffee with the widow two doors down and never once look at his watch. If Jesus moved into my neighborhood today, I think he would pray for healing in the household that experiences both the pain of addiction and the struggle of physical illness. If Jesus moved into my neighborhood today, I think he would throw a party and invite each and every person, even the neighbor who never shows up for anything.
I imagine that my Lonsdale neighbors would love this new neighbor and that the neighborhood would flourish in new ways because of him. In every word and action, Jesus would be inviting them into a newfound peace and hope because the kingdom of God is near. And these same neighbors who have been turned off by Christianity— because they have been judged by some for where they would end up when they die—would be drawn to the love, grace, justice, and reconciliation they experience while they are living.
Jesus did move into the neighborhood. The kingdom of God is near. And we, as followers of Jesus, have been tasked with sharing this good news. What difference will that make in your neighborhood in 2023?
Amy Schenkel is Resonate's regional mission leader for the Great Lakes region. If you or your congregation would like the Great Lakes Team to accompany you in 2023 as you learn how to live and love like Jesus in your neighborhoods, please drop me an email: email@example.com!