Finding those who are our so called “opposites,” and talking about spiritual things, can feel even more intimidating. Basically we get tripped up by fear. We fear seeming arrogant and disrespectful. We fear being ridiculed. We fear being swallowed up by the pain of seeing so directly into the dismal face of poverty or privilege. We fear being paralyzed by our guilt over the discrepancies between us. These fears are legitimate and need to be felt. And then we must go anyway.
Our guiding question will be, where would Jesus go? Most of these places will be where the privileged and connected are the ones on the outside.
Look around your town or county. Where are people struggling for a better life? Where have people been abandoned? Where is the church absent? Find these places and go there. Don’t go there to serve anyone. Don’t volunteer to answer the phone or organize a clothing drive or teach reading or fix a meal. Don’t do anything. Be. That’s all. Learn how to hang out with people who are not like you. Hear their stories, and share something of yours. Be in the tension of not knowing for sure what to say or do. Relax and receive whatever God wants to give you. Learn to be present.
We will not be able to be the church that God intends if we don’t let God plant in us, very simply, a passion for people. Not a coercive, codepenclent “love that’s not love,” but true affection that desires nothing else than to be there, and to be real. Crowds gathered around Jesus because he was available, and he was genuine. Who he was with them was who he was within himself. Are we living true to our inner selves? Are we the kind of people others enjoy being around? Do our schedules allow “hanging out time,” and do we hang out where destitute, lonely people hang out?