Do you think that God had anything to do with where you currently live? Was He at all interested or involved in you moving into the house you’re now in?
Perhaps you’ve never thought about it. Perhaps, with a shrug, you accept that if He’s interested in the whole of your life, then He’s probably interested in where you live. Perhaps you’re utterly convinced that God has strategically placed you into your house, your street and your neighbourhood.

It matters to God where you live.

One of the seismic changes that has happened as a result of Lockdown 2020 is that we are all far more rooted into our localities than at any other point in our lives. We’ve been forced to re-order our time to be far more local. Many of us have been working from home, our weekends have been based at home and leisure and entertainment has been… at home.

Those of us who follow the ways of Jesus will have read many times the Great Commandment ‘Love Your Neighbour’. Perhaps these last few months have seen us actually obey that command, not just merely nod at the idea. At the start of lockdown, many followers of Jesus put notes through the doors of their actual neighbours offering connection, support, help of any kind and community cohesion began to form in ways not seen since the Blitz. Personally, one of my favourite parts of these challenging few months, has been the level of friendships forged on our street, Toothill Road.

We began lockdown with ‘Toothill’s Got Talent’ and had nine different entries on our Whatsapp Group of a wonderful array of talent including magic shows, karaoke singing, DIY skills, drumming and even a dog doing tricks! That was closely followed by ‘The Great Toothill Bake Off’ where 13 different show stopping cakes were made and dropped off at my house where I took photos of the mouthwatering entries for the Whatsapp group (see photo above!) and then took them round to the homes of the assigned judges. The anticipation built as the judges’ results came in and 3rd, 2nd & 1st places were announced. As bakers revealed their identities in the group, messages of congratulations abounded. After that we did ‘Best GIF of the week’, the VE Day Street Party, the making of hanging baskets for our front doors, the ‘Great Garden Giveaway’ – giving away anything we didn’t need or want anymore – and perhaps my favourite moment of all, a moving thank you to the legend who runs our corner shop. In order to keep both his customers and his family safe, he had chosen to live in the flat above the corner shop rather than in the family home. He hand delivered groceries to those shielding and went over and above the call of duty many times. As a result, the gratitude from our surrounding streets for him was immense. So, a few of us neighbours schemed together on how to thank him. One created a huge thank you card with blank pages inserted and I invited neighbours to write little notes of appreciation and post them through my front door. I stuck them into the card that was fast becoming a book! Then we thought it would be wonderful to bless him and his family with some money to treat themselves when lockdown ended. I invited neighbours to contribute, thinking we might raise £100 to give him. Money kept pouring through the door and we ended up with £500. On a prearranged day after the NHS clap, we all stayed out and whilst I presented him with the gigantic card of thanks and the £500, around 80 people clapped, cheered, whistled and made a fitting cacophony of noise for a neighbourhood that has quickly become a community of friends.

It matters to God where you live.

Many of us long for another Great Awakening where God’s love sweeps across this Nation. As I have read more about movements, it seems to me that movements like that don’t happen when followers of Jesus stay gathered in their church buildings and invite people to come to where they are. Movements happen when the church is scattered, just like the book of Acts and we go to where people are at. Which right now, is at home.
The street, neighbourhood and postcode where God has placed us is where we need to bring in more of God’s Kingdom to earth. That will look different for all of us but I know it must mean two things. Building relationships and praying.

We naturally get to share our faith, when we share our lives with people. Movements happen when normal followers of Jesus connect with the people God has placed all around them and demonstrate love, joy and peace in such a way that spiritual questions get asked.

And praying. This is a season where prayerwalking is a key to postcode perseverance. As we walk our streets, we bless the land we walk on and we pray. We pray for the institutions we pass, the places of influence we see and the people we have grown to know and love. Neighbours who were once just faces, now have names we use as we pray.

Neighbourliness is good for the soul. We are created for connection with others. And perhaps as we invest in relationships locally and prayer walk with perseverance, the right ingredients are in place for God to move in the way we long for.

What might happen if we all invested at street level? If neighbours became friends and friends became followers of Jesus? If (within current restrictions) our gardens and homes became places to read God’s word together with neighbours as we learn to put into practice the ways of Jesus together? If smaller, more localised expressions of church were planted all over our villages, towns and cities? I wonder if that would create the strong net of vibrant disciple-making communities that God is waiting for?

It matters to God where you live.

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