"Loving each other is what we were meant to do and how we were made to roll. It's not where we start when we begin following Jesus; it's the beautiful path we travel the rest of our lives. Will it be messy and ambiguous and uncomfortable when we love people the way Jesus said to love them? You bet it will. Will we be misunderstood? Constantly. But extravagant love often means coloring outside the lines and going beyond the norms. Loving the neighbors we don't understand takes work and humility and patience and guts. It means leaving the security of our easy relationships to engage in some tremendously awkward ones."
I'm a few chapters into Bob Goff's new book "Everybody Always," and the text above is from the first chapter "Creepy People." The chapter ends with how I want to approach this next season of my life because for me, there isn't a more convicting or terrifying line than, "Loving the neighbors we don't understand takes work and humility and patience and guts." None of that is comfortable, safe, or easy. Which is what I want more often than not when it comes to my faith. If I'm being honest though, I'll always stay where I'm comfortable and safe. Forever coming home from work, closing the garage, scrolling through Netflix and my social media feeds to live a forgettable life.
I think that is why that line is so terrifying because I know that is the life God calls us to live. God wants us to live a life of courage and risk. Embracing the hard work, humility, patience, and guts that are needed to love our neighbors and our city. I also don't want this to be a short season but one that spans the remainder of my life whether that is years or hours. I want to be known for what I am for, not what I'm against. I want my legacy to be one that brings life and hope to our city.
As believers whose lives have been radiaclly changed by Jesus, the legacy of the gospel within us is to live this out. We want Starkville to know that there is a God who is for them, that we are for them, and that we are for Starkville! We want to be a church that is known for being courageous, risky, and extravagant in our love for the people in our city. I invite you to join me in doing the work, being humble, patient, and gutsy when it comes to being #FORStarkville!
I'll leave you this month with Bob Goff's conclusion to the chapter, "Find a way to love difficult people more, and you'll be living the life Jesus talked about. Go find someone you've been avoiding and give away extravagant love to them. You'll learn more about God, your neighbor, your enemies, and your faith. Find someone you think is wrong, someone you disagree with, someone who isn't like you at all, and decide to love that person the way you want Jesus to love you.
We need to love everybody, always.
Jesus never said doing these things would be easy. He just said it would work."