A couple weeks ago I stayed in an Airbnb the night before a race in another city. I’d made the poor life choice to do an evening 5K following by a half marathon the next morning. Really the poor choice was not cancelling one of those races after I realized I’d accidentally scheduled them back to back. But pride (and the wallet) won out and there I was: sleeping on a futon for five hours before running 2-hours plus in the sunshine.
I got to the house after 11pm, so I unpacked my necessities for the morning and crawled into bed as quickly and quietly as I could. The next morning I wandered the living space a little while eating my granola bar breakfast. On one of the walls was a framed picture with a partial map of the world, cut into a heart, and two words below it: extend love…
The following week, a speaker at church talked about the beginning of the church movement, with emphasis on a command given to those early believers:
Jesus told them, “You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business. What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses in Jerusalem, all over Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the world.” – Acts 1:8
The speaker highlighted that the people were to start in their hometown, in the very city that Jesus was speaking to them and the main place they had been living together for the previous three years. Then it expanded outward into their country. Still seems reasonable that you could make an impact on other citizens of your country, other people like you. And then comes the big jump: Samaria. That was a country to the north of Judea and for a variety of reasons, every definition of “the bad part of town” that they could think of. They were being told to voluntarily go where they would normally use days of extra travel to avoid. Like literally walk around, in the desert to avoid being “unclean”.
And they were supposed to go to those people?!? And tell them about Jesus?!? And like be nice?!?
I wonder if they even heard the final portion of the command (“to the ends of the ends of the world”) or if they were still in shock and denial about Samaria.
But that was the command. Back in 33 A.D. and in 2019. We are supposed to show love to those in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our countries, and in all those places that mamma always said not to go. Extending love means talking to those with different political views as human beings, means looking the person living on the street corner in the eye, and means holding your tongue when someone won’t let you in on the highway. It also means loving those close-by too; those who might be the easiest to forget. By telling a friend you appreciate them, calling a grandparent on the phone, or babysitting so a sibling can have a night out, you are loving your Jerusalem.
“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is to love and to be loved in return.” – Moulin Rouge
Wherever you are…