Since yesterday was such beautiful day, I decided to take off an hour early to give my wife a break and take our kids for a walk to the park. It turned out that two of our interns, Jordan and Mark, had just finished a project they were working on, and decided to join us along the way. A few of neighbor kids--Vegas, Magiel, and Placedo--were out hanging around as school had just ended and decided to join us for the park adventure as well.
There is not any playground equipment at the park in our neighborhood, so we were forced to be more creative in our play together. It is a beautiful and rare green space with several huge trees, and Mark began to climb up one of them--to the amazement of the rest of the kids. We realized pretty quickly that the tree he was climbing was a sycamore tree, and it reminded us immediately of the story of Zacchaeus, who climbed a sycamore tree in order to see and hear Jesus.
Vegas, Magdiel, and Placedo had never heard about Zacchaeus, so we told them about how he was a short man who lived when Jesus was on earth and was not liked by many because he cheated a lot of people out of their money. One day while Jesus was walking and teaching the people, he saw Zacchaeus up in a sycamore tree and called out to him by name saying, "Let's go to your house and have a meal together!"
We decided that we should reenact the story right there together as a one-act-play. Vegas jumped at the idea of getting to play Jesus, Magdiel and Placedo were the crowd of people, Mark played Zacchaeus since he is the only one who could get up the tree, and I narrated. We all had a blast, and by the end Vegas was declaring the Gospel to us all, not even knowing it, as she spoke Jesus' climactic words, "The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost!"
We had so much fun, they all demanded we do another play. So we thought quickly and decided to act out the Parable of the Mustard Seed, planting a seed in the ground together and then looking up to admire the magnificent tree above us that it could one day become. The lesson they took away--every small good thing you do, God can use it to do something bigger and better than you can imagine.
These beautiful, unplanned opportunities to convey the message and good news of Jesus to these beloved neighbor kids are a part of the reason it is so powerful to live and intentionally be present in the places we're seeking to impact. Jesus is the One who first showed us this when He put on human flesh to live among us, pointing around to ordinary objects and experiences people inherently understood in order to teach them about Himself, His Dad, and the Kingdom Family they were breaking open into this world.
How life-changing it is when we begin see that God has given us so much in our lives to share with others. What if we covenanted with other believers in our neighborhood to love each other like family, and to orient our shared lives together around making space to love our neighbors like family.
Have you ever considered what it might look like for you to live like a family on mission in your neighborhood? Maybe moving to a neighborhood with some others who are seeking to live this way?