Rob here. It’s spring here in New Zealand and so we’ve been spending a bit of family time outside as we revamp our garden areas. This is in-between the showers and gales of course! Spring in New Zealand is always an unpredictable affair.
One of the consequences of this outside time has been meeting some of our neighbours as they walk past our front yard as we work. A 3 year old boy, Cruz (not Beckham), has really made himself at home. He even escaped from home, walked to our place and headed straight inside to our son Jake’s bedroom without a word being spoken. He knew where the toys lived! Don’t worry, his Nana knew exactly where he would be and wasn’t too far behind.
Like many of you we live in a multi-cultural neighbourhood. There are Pacific Islanders, Maori, Asian, South Africans and University students who are a culture all of their own! Then there are us white, anglo-saxon types. As this little Maori boy made himself at home I was struck afresh at how easy it is to just stick with our own kind. The vast majority of my friends (facebook and otherwise) are people just like me; white, educated, Christian and All Black supporters. That’s fine. We all need friends who understand us, share our interests and look at life in a similar way. But if we only hang out with people like us we will end up with a very limited understanding of what God is up to in this world. Alan Roxburgh in his book, Missional: Joining God in the Neighbourhood (Baker Books, 2011) says:
“Look at the networks to which you belong! Chances are most of them are comprised of people in the same economic, social, and ethnic group as you and they generally share the same political and religious views. The boundary-breaking Spirit is interested not in re-creating homogeneous Euro-tribal churches but in calling forth local communities that manifest the new creation in a globalized world. Today most neighbourhoods are increasingly ethnically mixed and represent the new religiously pluralist society North America has become. The Spirit is calling us to go local in such neighbourhoods rather than running back to our homogeneous networks (168).”
This is true for me. I want to make space in my heart for the other; for those who don’t look like me, sound like me or act like me. I want to love my neighbour as Jesus has asked me too. Jesus went on to tell the story of the Good Samaritan; a culturally different, religiously different, ethnically different person to his Jewish listeners. God’s eternity is multi-cultural. Just read Revelation 5 and 7! So hang out in your front yard, let your kids climb the neighbour’s tree and most of all, make space in your heart so you can love your neighbour in the name of Jesus.