The other day I saw a post on Facebook complaining about how awful the city I live in is and several people agreed with the comment. According to the post, it’s a violent, drug-ridden town and you should be afraid to leave your house. Now, I will give you for instance, that our city has been on several top 10 lists for worst place to live, fattest city, most unhappy etc. While I am not entirely sure where this data comes from and am sure not everyone in my city is the nicest person you will ever meet, these lists and the above Facebook post are poor representations of the town I call home. And honestly, the post broke my heart.
Several years ago, I would have sworn up and down I would never settle in this town. I hated it. I wanted out and I wanted out bad. Then I fell in love with the most amazing guy and I began praying for God to change my heart and help me see my town through His eyes. I took off my rose-colored glasses and put on love-colored glasses. I also started hanging out with a bunch of people who are working hard to make my city better. These are people fighting for progress, development, growth, and community. They are the people who could list off 100 things to do on any given night while others are complaining there is nothing to do in this town. They are the people in the trenches loving and working in some of the toughest parts of the city. They are people opening their homes to all manner of people, those like them and those completely different. And if you asked them, they would all express a sense of love for this dear town.
It’s a not a love springing from circumstances. Our town didn’t suddenly make some top 10 best places to live list. But they, like me, have committed to cultivating love for the people in this city. They are choosing every day to view our city through the lens of love. We are praying for restoration and wholeness in our city. We are seeking to build community across religious lines, race lines, and socioeconomic lines. We are spending time in the dark places, the places with violence and drugs, we are moving into the neighborhoods and inviting others into our lives. It’s messy, it’s often tough and scary, but it is opening my eyes to how much Jesus must have loved me. He died for me. He gave up His life when I couldn’t care less for Him. He loved humanity-a humanity which would someday be full of drugs, and violence, and slavery, and all manner of evil. And yet, He still died. In His death, He called us to life and He called us to love. He called us, those who claim to love Him, to love those around us. And each day, as I get ready for my day, I pray for His love to be part of my life. For love colored glasses to be the lens through which I view my co-workers, my friends, the clerk at the grocery store, the city in which I call home. And each day, it gets easier and easier to say with all sincerity, I truly love this community. I want to see it succeed and grow. I want to see it transformed and restored. And I will keep fighting for this because there are so many in our city who need someone, anyone to fight for them.
Friend, wherever you are, will you join me in praying for love-colored glasses? I believe this is the only way Jesus would want us to view our communities. If you live near me and want a practical way to show some love, check out City Serve Day on March 18th. Join a team to serve our community or add your own service project to the list. Let’s show others how much light can change the dark places around us.