So last night we had a party.
Now, when we (and by we, I mean the wider network of staff, students and friends who make up the language school I work for) throw a party, they're known for being a whole lot of crazy fun.
And last night. Was a whole lot of crazy fun.
My heart is so full of love for this group of people, who more than anything, make up some of my greatest friends in this city, that I sometimes just want to throw my arms around the whole lot of them.
So we ate and talked and a couple of us performed some songs (which was an eclectic collection of everything from the Beatles, to Ben E. King, to Jack Johnson, to my own songs, to a bit of Christian music..), and then all went on to sing some rather spectacular karaoke.
But… The conversations were great.
The laughter was great.
And I'm left thinking that…
Quality time with people is just the best.
Check it out…
There are so many lonely people. Not just in Japan, but definitely in Japan. There are so many people searching for real friendship and genuine conversation and love and a friend who will genuinely listen to them and genuinely care about them. And so often people search in all the wrong places for all the right things.
Our desire for love and intimacy and to be known isn't wrong. Not in itself. We were after all, created to be in relationship. It's just that those desires were made to be satisfied fully in relationship with God and the then overflow of healthy relationships with others. We were made for community.
The Kingdom of Heaven style-community.
It's just that the world sells us so, so short.
It sells us entertainment as a counterfeit for joy and lust as a counterfeit for love and masks as a counterfeit for genuineness and pretend strength as a counterfeit for the beauty in brokenness.
The world sells us so, so short every-single-time.
Which is why, as a Christian, I love hanging out with people. At parties. At bars. In coffee shops. In homes. In restaurants. In karaoke. I love talking with people. I love building relationships which are based on the right things instead of the wrong things.
I love being friends with non-Christians.
Don't get me wrong, I also love and completely love being friends with Christians. I believe and value the unique support and spiritual unity that exists between me and Christian family. I think that the Bride of Christ is stunningly beautiful. I believe that it’s vital to have real Christian accountability and prayer support…
But I love the fact that we're called outside of the church building and into the real community.
I really do.
Because I think that's what we see in Jesus.
When He spoke, He said He came for the sick not the healthy, and He said He was here to seek and save the lost.
And Jesus hung out with those who were not acceptable in the synagogue; with the sinners, and the outcasts, and the prostitutes and the tax collectors. He spent time with the broken and the lost. With the children and the women. With those that everyone else rejected, especially the religious.
And He loved us when we were lost and outcast.
And made a way for us to be with Him forever.
He didn’t wait to me to be clean before He invited me into friendship with Him. He invited me, and made a way for me when I was blackened in my sin and my filth, and then when I said ‘yes’ to Him, He made me new.
Real and genuine friendship.
Jesus was the Son of God, yet He came to seek and serve and save the lost.
He didn’t treat the vulnerable like a fashionable project. He didn’t talk to the outcast like they were part of a bums-on-seats-growth-strategy. And He didn’t forsake real relationships to preach to a bigger crowd.
He loved. He listened. He healed. He brought hope and restoration. And in His light, people changed. They repented. They turned their lives around.
He spoke to crowds, and individuals, and saw the one in the masses.
And I want to be like Him.
We can’t preach to the lost, without being friends with the lost.
And we can’t sit safely in our churches, and still fulfill the call to be lights in the darkness.
It’s just not possible.
So I got up this morning. Thankful heart still overflowing. Spent some time with God reading Jeremiah over an oversized cup of earl grey tea. Was completely floored all-over-again by Jeremiah 31. I mean, those words. Are stunningly-mind-blowingly-spirit-shakingly-awesome.
God told them, 'I've never quit loving you and never will…'
God tells us that same thing.
That in all our rebellion and all our messiness and all our failures, His love never quits. That in our desire for all the wrong things His kindness leads us to repentance. That when we're in the wilderness desperately searching for a place of rest, we meet God out looking for us. That there is greater restoration than our hearts know or our minds can understand. That He has made a way where there seemed to be none and that Jesus has done everything to be close to us.
I love Him so much.