We live in a world saturated by popularity. Don't believe me? Look at the media. Look at billboards the next time you are driving home from work. Everything. Everywhere. Screaming at us that we aren't enough. That we need to buy this product, drive that car, have that relationship, live in that house. Just to be good enough. Just to fit in.
I want to march to the beat of a different drummer. I want to see snapshots of the Kingdom of Heaven coming alive on Earth when we choose to look past the things the world values and be the kind of people that welcome others well.
So what do we do? What if we started with being the kind of people that helped others know they don't have to "fit in" to be good enough? What if we were the kind of people that welcomed and loved others unconditionally?
I don't normally share stories like this next one, but this was a small moment that I saw the Kingdom come alive this week. Yesterday I was at one of the Middle Schools in Point Loma hanging out during their lunch period as a volunteer. A lot of our youth group students go to this middle school. I walked up to a long-haired 6th grade guy I had never met that was playing Kendama, a stick and cup and ball game that is starting to get really popular. I walked up to him to say "hi" because he was in the corner of the blacktop by himself. I said, "hey, is that a Kendama?" His eyes looked up in shock that I knew what it was. If he was shocked at my knowledge then he was astounded when I pulled my Kendama out of my backpack. Whatever he was expecting was going to happen during his lunch period, this wasn't it. After talking for a few minutes he told me he played by himself because he had nobody else to play with. "Well, can I play?" I said. He challenged me to a game of "Dam" where I had to match his tricks. He annihilated me. He was so good that as we were playing and I was trying to match him trick-for-trick a small crowd of impressed boys gathered. I high-fived my conqueror and handed my Kendama to another kid to take on my new friend, Ben.
The rest of the lunch period was uneventful, I went and played wall-ball with a different group of kids. When I was walking back towards the Kendama crew I saw that the small group had only grown. What started as Ben playing by himself, outcast without any friends to play with, had multiplied into 20 kids playing, united by a common love of Kendama. They excitedly talked about how fun it would be if they all brought their Kendamas to school the next day to play. They had welcomed Ben into their crew.
Scripture: "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes not only me but also the Father who sent me." - Mark 9:37.
I saw a snapshot of the Kingdom on Earth this week. I saw boys making friends with each other, not because they were all the cool kids or because of what they would gain by being friends, but because they had a common ground to stand on.
What are the small actions, like including people, you can take to love those around you? Who can you love intentionally this week?