Place-sharing with people is sharing with others what Jesus is sharing with them.
By Ceeja Malmkar, MTC Coordinator, Surrey Hills, OK
“Place-sharing” has become a common topic of conversation recently and I couldn’t be happier about it. I think that sometimes we get caught up in all the things we don’t have or the things we can’t do. Sometimes we get stuck in our small numbers on Sundays and our increasing ages. Friends, we cannot get stuck there. We are the bride of Christ, and every day is an opportunity to step into that identity. The church is a hospital, not a hospice. We have life, and as his bride, we are called to “be the Church.” Jesus has always worked through relationship, and he still does. He invites us to join him in a way that we are all capable of participating in, and that’s through place-sharing.
Place-sharing means we experience life with others. We experience joy with them, and we suffer with them. Place-sharing is not manipulative, and it’s not superficial. Place-sharing is not about making people our “projects” that we can project our judgments and beliefs on. God does not call us to try and fix people, because only he can change hearts and minds. He calls us to place-share with them. He calls us to love them authentically. He calls us to build friendships and join him as we share life together, sharing our joys and our burdens and opening our hearts.
I have learned that by place-sharing with people, we share with them what Jesus is sharing with them. Jesus is constantly sharing with all of us through the Holy Spirit. If we can individually begin to seek out the broken, the hurt, the sick, and the lost, and open our hearts every single day to an identity of worship that requires humility, authenticity, compassion, love, patience, intentionality, trust, and courage, we may find that our churches will start looking more like hospitals again.
There is so much sorrow in the world, so much hurt, and a general feeling of not belonging, because the enemy has planted lies in our society. Lies that tell us that God is not for us. Lies that tell us we are too far gone. Lies that tell us we are not good enough. Lies that tell us we do not belong. Jesus speaks truth to us, as the church, so that we may speak that truth into others in action and love. That truth is that Jesus Christ died once for all people (2 Corinthians 5:15), and that it is his desire that all of us are in relationship with him (2 Peter 3:9). Therefore, we all belong. None of us have “gone too far” or done anything that Jesus holds against us. In fact, our biggest mistakes, he washes away, separating them from us “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).
If that is the kind of attitude and love that Jesus has for us, then that is the attitude we must have towards our neighbors and community. God’s call for us to love others is audacious. He calls us to put others ahead of ourselves and to love people we may not necessarily like. He calls us to get to know strangers, to meet people in their pain and to share it, to befriend them, to hang out with them, and to help them. He calls us to share our hearts, our love, and our lives with them. He calls us to share our resources and friendship generously. It may not be easy, but it is who we are called to be. The kind of love that God is asking his Church to display is a love that forces us to grow, because it is a love beyond what humanity can grasp. It is a love that changes every one of us. We cannot love others with the love of Jesus without our own hearts changing.
What a beautiful opportunity we have, to live out the New Commandment every day by walking alongside our neighbors that God has placed right next to us. Every day is an opportunity to meet them, to get to know them, and to let them get to know us—in the good, the bad, and the messy. By place-sharing with people, we share with them what Jesus is sharing with them. It’s in that authentic friendship and sharing of life that those outside the church walls begin to truly relate with those who attend inside those walls. Suddenly “walls” begin to break down, and the Spirit begins to move in ways that we can’t imagine. It’s an incredible experience and one that Jesus has for all of us regardless of our age, our size, or our location. Because before the events, before Bible studies, before the growth, must come relationship. Place-sharing is where real discipleship starts.