Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Seattle Freeze

The Seattle Freeze:

It’s cold outside in Seattle, but it’s not from the weather. The front page of the Seattle Times on Saturday, Jan 17th, was entitled: “Friendless in Seattle.” The article described a condition called the Seattle Freeze, which is the struggle to build friendships in our city. People are so desperate for a human connection that up to 150 per day advertise on Craigs List for friends.

We were built with a desire for relationship; in fact, it’s the very reason for which we were created. God desired a relationship with us so much that he created us so we could have it. The Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit models that relationship for us. The book The Shack actually puts some earthly ideas to how the three persons of the Trinity relate to one another.

But, we have gone far away from God’s intention for us. Our culture has helped it to happen. Socialogists state that the invention of the garage door opener has put one of the nails in the coffin of relationships. How often have you seen your neighbor drive up, push their button to the garage, and drive in, so that a conversation with them is prevented? How often have we done this ourselves?

Technology has also made it harder for us to have face to face relationships. In fact, people are sharing far more on facebook or on a blog than they would ever dream about sharing in front of a real life person. The temptation to create an “image” often takes precedence over taking off our mask so the real “person” can stand up!

Seattle is a city full of very gift entrepreneurs who work hard. Work is often a barrier to relationships as well. We can be so exhausted at the end of a day, the last thing we want to do is the work of building a relationship. The temptation to zone out in front of the TV or internet is real and strong.

We’ve identified the reality of the Seattle Freeze, so now as God’s people, intentionally following Jesus, what can we do to Melt the Freeze?

Our first priority needs to be seeking Jesus’ priority that he gave us with the Great Commandment: “Love the Lord God with everything you are, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Our first step must be knowing God and understanding his desire for relationship with us. When we slow down long enough, we are able to connect with him and understand that he is like a new Daddy that can’t get enough time with their newborn! He can’t stop talking about us; he shows everyone pictures of us. That’s how much God loves us.

Romans 8 in the Message states: “This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike "What's next, Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children.”

After we know God and his love for us, we are able to love ourselves. This is important for being able to love our neighbor; to thaw the freeze. It’s when we come to a place of acceptance of who we are; being healed of our hurts, training our self talk to be positive and truthful from Scripture, we can know love for ourselves. We become prisoners when our self-talk is negative because instead of agreeing with God’s truth of Scripture, we are agreeing with the enemies’ lies to us.

John 10:10 tells us: “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I, Jesus, came so you can have real and eternal life, more and better life than you ever dreamed of.”

Jesus stands ready to give us a life on earth that is full of meaning and fulfillment. It isn’t a life that goes through the motions and drops into bed at the end of the day; it is a life that can’t wait to get up in the morning to experience what Jesus has in store for them.

Back to the Seattle Freeze. Look around; who do you see? Who do you run into on a regular basis? Who do you work with? Who are your neighbors, next door on both sides and across the street? If we were to choose 4 people that we feel called to befriend, and begin to pray for them, I believe that at the end of this year; we would see many lives changed.

Why? Because we were created for relationship. That’s the true point of our existence.

I have an idea; why don’t we start putting building relationships on our task lists? If we prioritize it, it will have a better chance of happening. So, today, put asking your co-worker for coffee on your task list; put dropping by your neighbor’s house to say hi on your task list, put contacting one of your missio community members to check in on your task list. Let’s put melting the Seattle Freeze on our tasklist, and watch the sun come out!

Let’s get back together next week and see what happens!

Romans 8: the Message: God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

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