Recently, I moved to a big city. Seattle of all places – almost the farthest point in the continental US that I could possibly get from my roots. I’m a southern lady whose closest neighbors were chickens, cows, and a donkey. Of course, I traveled often, studied, and always found myself in some other cultured part of the world, but my “home” home was always the rural town (maybe village is a better word) of East Bend, North Carolina where walking to the mailbox was in itself a feat. Population hovered just under 700 people. Population of Seattle? 608,000 give or take a few coffee lovers, art hoarders, and hipsters. There’s a big difference. In Seattle, I live in an apartment building that boasts a staff of around 35 people who keep the near thousand units in the four towers in top running order. More people live in this complex than in my hometown. To top if off, in East Bend everyone knows everybody, and even if you don’t, you act like you know them. That’s just the southern way to do things. Here I share walls with people I’ve never even spoken to. You don’t pretend like you know anyone. In fact, I was advised not to make eye contact with people in the elevator. Strange culture.
Being suddenly thrust into this giant web of people, people, and more people, I’ve tried to have a better perspective of myself in relation to these people. I feel almost now that I have more responsibility. Give me a moment, and I will explain. Before when I visited big cities, it was usually only for a few days, a week at max, and I was gone and with my exit, my likelihood of seeing anyone I had encountered whilst I was there was next to zero. BUT now here I am in the big city, and despite it’s size, there are faces that I see regularly. The staff here at the apartments, my neighbors in the building, the people at the gym, the cashiers at the grocery store I frequent, the baristas and the wait staff at the coffee shops and restaurants I favor. There are familiar faces that make up my day to day ritualistic life. I see more people in an hour here than I would in a week in my hometown.
This was a lurching realization for me as I started churning around the greatest calling on my life in my head. Well, it’s not just MY greatest calling, it’s all of Christians greatest calling. The call to “go forth and make disciples of all nations.” We are called to be missionaries wherever we are, and my mission field just grew enormously in size. Of course, I cannot accost everyone on the street, in my building, at the coffee shops, or in the grocery store and ask them if they know Jesus. I mean technically I could, but I doubt that would go over well considering most people here in the city prescribe to the “nothing” religion. And while some would probably be open to “religious” discussions others not so much. But how to go about sharing some of the Good News I’ve been entrusted with when I can barely get so much as a “hello” out of some people?
It’s amazing how God can give you an answer through His word if you just take time to read it and pray through it. This week He brought two passages to my attention that apply directly to what my current life looks like.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (ESV)
“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (ESV)
God can speak through our actions. Our actions point toward our Father. A lot of times I think about my actions toward my Christian brothers and sisters, but I don’t think about my actions toward the many strangers that I encounter. I apply the fruits of the Spirit toward other believers in Christ, but I frequently forget about all the small run-ins I have with people on a day-to-day basis. This is obviously the wrong perspective. I should be reaching above and beyond to treat everyone I encounter with the love of Christ especially if they don’t love Jesus. Nonbelievers should be able to tell by my day to day living that I serve a different god. They should see that I serve the one true God. They should be able to tell in my speech, my conduct, my actions, my countenance. I am meant to be salt and light. I am meant to be thanking God for every little wonderful thing that happens. I am meant to be offering to pray for people. I am meant to be humble, patient, kind, gentle. I am meant to be joyful. Notice I didn’t say happy. Happiness is based on your happenings. Joy is based in Christ. We can exude with joy even when our heart is full of sorrow and grief. All of my encounters with people should directly point to Christ. They should point to the peace I have with Him, the joy I have with Him, the relationship I have with Him. My life should always point to Him. I am to act as His ambassador as I pass my life here.
I challenge you as I am challenging myself: how does your daily walk look? Are you daily exuding with the fruits of the Spirit? Are you genuinely thankful for the life God has given you? Are you treating others as Christ would? Are you acting as salt and light? If you’re a Christian, Christ has called you to be so.
As I sit now on the eleventh floor of my building in a city full of hurting and lost people, I am excited at the possibilities. I know it will be slow going, but I am excited that I have this opportunity to point to Christ in my daily life.