“Let me know if you need anything.” It’s a statement that I’ve heard often in my life. People usually toss it around. Even when they are serious about the offer, the recipients usually aren’t. “Sure, I’ll let you know if I need anything.” is the response that I’ve often given and received.
This is just one example of what English majors (of which I can definitely not call myself) call phatic expression. These phrases are a communication which serves a social function, such as social pleasantries that don’t seek or offer information of intrinsic value but can signal willingness to observe conventional local expectations for politeness. Perhaps more common examples are “How you doin’?” and “Have a nice day!” We rattle them off quickly, but often never mean them.
So as you can imagine when you come across someone who actually means what they say as they tell you, “Let me know if you need anything.”, then it’s difficult to sometimes respond! This catches you off guard. You might not even know how to respond! At the same time, when someone actually means what they say you also feel a host of emotions. Why? Because when a person puts real emphasis on an expression that is normally phatic it becomes very easy to recognize their sincerity, concern, kindness, enthusiasm, and ultimately their love… for you! That’s because they’re acting differently than you have anticipated.
The same is often true of the Kingdom of God. As God’s children we’re called to live differently.
1 John 3:23-24 (NIV) And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.
The Holy Spirit is the evidence of God’s children living differently. They abstain from the pleasures of the world and choose to love one another and thus put one another first. We’re called to change our lone wolf mentality to that of a pack. We’re challenged in collectivist cultures (like Taiwan) to not just offer lip service, but be sincere. Why? Because Jesus did the same for us!
Ephesians 2:19-20 (NIV) Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Last week I experienced God’s children living their lives with Him in a very real way, similar to what John writes about. Last week our Aroma community came together and asked my family if we needed anything; and meant it.
Many of you know on October 26th Brittany gave birth to our beautiful new baby girl, Hailee. Giving birth was much different this time around, because we also had an almost-seven year old waiting at home for us to do things like take her to school!
As you can see in the photos above we were cared for. In a time and place where our blood family couldn’t be with us, our spiritual family was. This is what God’s Kingdom is about. This is what the world needs to see and much of what they desire. A family that loves them with a love they’ve never experienced.
My uncle used to say, “If you want to change a culture you have to belong to one people want to immigrate to.” Today I feel extremely blessed and grateful to belong to a culture that is blessings others and changing lives, a culture that others are immigrating too! God’s culture!