Changing the Neighborhood

Brad M. Griffin | Apr 21, 2010

As God reorders our reality and we reimagine worship in light of Gods justice, were also invited to reimagine our location, our neighborhood. Mark Labberton suggests in The Dangerous Act of Worship that when we truly seek to love God and neighbor, we may actually encounter the God who suggests our neighborhood is different than what we expected:

we will realize that our neighbor is not just those who happen to live in the comfortable enclave of our own choosing, but also includes the needy, the suffering and the marginalized. For they are in Gods heart, right where we now dwell. Its dangerous to let God shape our lives, for he always changes the neighborhood. ((Mark Labberton, The Dangerous Act of Worship: Living God’s Call to Justice (Downers Grove: IVP, 2007), 68.))

We may continue to live in the same physical location, but as we wake up to Gods reality, God changes our address. By Gods grace, the reference points that position our lives in relation to others are altered. (p.78) As we dwell in God, and therefore dwell in Gods justice and mercy, we discover that we have new neighbors as the gospel recontextualizes our address.

We also discover that we have deeper resources to address the needs of our neighbors than we have imagined. Whether we identify a need to speak to power in advocacy for the poor in our city or round up resources to bring clean water to a community in Haiti, our new address in the heart of God opens the possibility of resources weve never before accessed. When we dare move beyond powerlessness or paralysis to change what is, its possible for us to see new options for what can be by the power of the One who rules the neighborhood. This may require a new depth of love, a new depth of sacrifice, or a new depth of identifying with the poorbut in our new neighborhood we discover that these are new acts of worship marked by joy.

Brad M. Griffin

Brad M. Griffin is the Senior Director of Content for the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI), where he develops research-based training for youth workers and parents. A speaker, blogger, and volunteer youth pastor, Brad is the coauthor of Faith in an Anxious World, Growing Young, several Sticky Faith books, Every Parent’s Guide to Navigating Our Digital World, and the series Can I Ask That?: 8 Hard Questions about God and Faith. Brad and his family live in Southern California.


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