I believe that Jesus oftentimes calls us to spend time or be intentional with people that are different than us so that we can begin to see people as He sees them. Over the past 5 weeks I was privileged to work at Kids Across America, a Christian sports camp for urban kids. I am so thankful for such a hard but valuable experience. A theme in my life has been transferring to new places and finding contentment even out of my element. But praise God in every new place He's the same... and so are His people. We each have a natural inclination towards people that are like us. However, Jesus spent his time with people that were very different than Him most of the time. The Kingdom isn't about building a community of people just like us, but building a community of diverse people with diverse gifts so that others may be reached for the gospel! And one of my favorite things about the Kingdom of God is that it's reproducible! The same values can exist and flourish in different cultures and places.
Jesus boils down all the commandments to two in Mark 12:30-31. He says "And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. The second is like it and is this, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these" (amp). There is no condition to Jesus' command to love others. The Kingdom is simple: love Jesus and love the person in front of you.
And when our agenda is those two things, life is simple. When we love Jesus we do what He says. John 14:15 says "If you love me, you will keep my commands." And when we love people we lay our life down for them. In John 21:16 Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. Peter responds yes and Jesus says "then tend my sheep". Thus my goal this year is to love Jesus and others well, believing that the city of Lawrence will be changed through the living out of the greatest two commandments. It really is a simple Kingdom.