I'd like to live on Austin's street.
I'm at the Brookhaven Starbucks right now. As I waited in line for my Grande coffee, I observed a man and a woman run into each other. The woman asked about the man's new baby and how his wife was doing. The man invited the woman over to their other neighbors' house to watch football this afternoon. She said they would come by at halftime to visit and meet the baby.
And I thought, when's the last time I ran into a friend at Starbucks? When's the last time someone invited me over for an impromptu, casual Sunday afternoon to watch football and it was actually an option because I could walk down to their house and just "pop over?" I rarely pop these days. I plan.
Francis Chan spoke at Catalyst this week. He recently left his church and moved to San Francisco. He's starting a ministry right now designed to connect with people in apartment buildings in San Fran. The premise is simple: someone "adopts" a building. They go door to door and just introduce themselves. They don't invite to anything or sell anything or push anything. They do take food and gifts and stuff and meet needs, though. And once there's a relationship that's built on giving, not taking, they ask how they can pray for the neighbor. (Francis joked that if they say they don't believe in God, they'd say, "Great! Give me something big!") And through this intentional neighboring, they'll get to know people in a building, and meet their needs, and love them.
I sat there and listened to Francis and got FIRED UP. I couldn't stop talking about it. I loved the idea. "That's the definition of community!" I raved! I'd love to be a part of that!
But then I thought, why don't you, Jamie? You have a street. You have roommates and a house and a block. You have a neighborhood and a coffee shop and a relationship with the living God of the universe.
And I realized: I'm spending all this time in my life talking about community, maybe even dreaming about a community someday "when"... when I own a house. When I'm married. When I have kids. When I move to a neighborhood where community already exists. When I magically live down the street from my best friends. When I become a part of a ministry where someone else is creating a structured community. When it's easy.
And I thought, maybe God has put this on my heart for me to be that person. Maybe he has burned a deep passion for community and neighborhood because he wants me to create it. Not "when." Now.
Atlanta has always frustrated me because it's so spread out, so sprawling, so disconnected. But now, swirling around in my head is the thought that if I'm going to spend so much time complaining about how spread out and sprawling and disconnected it is, maybe I should invest in making it smaller and more intimate and more connected.
Maybe the Lord wants to take this city and make it a neighborhood, and he's just looking for the neighbors.
"The entire law is summed up in a single command: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"