The next blog in our Created for Community Series comes from Jacob Martinez during his time in Jakarta, Indonesia. While living in a house with nine other men and hosting dinners for locals and travelers each night, he began to learn a lot about leading with God’s love. We were created for community and when we share our lives and our faith with each other we have the opportunity to see our blind spots and also our giftings. Committing to each other (in person or virtually) is not always easy but it will make us more like Jesus—and in these times we need each other more than ever.
This is a story about love.
Last month I had the privilege to live in an apartment with nine dudes in an area called Slipi in Jakarta, Indonesia. To my surprise, the team didn’t morph into grunting wild men, but stayed civilized gentlemen and learned doctors. Sure some of us (me included) ate a cobra and drank its blood but other than that we kept our standards.
I ate 2 dozen donuts over the course of the month, possibly 15 Snickers as well. Our electric stove in our apartment shocked me more than a couple of times. I got a tattoo. Played futsal with some talented individuals. Lived life with some amazing people.
God gave the team a heart for encouraging others and to provide hospitality for people. As a team we decided to host locals for dinner.
We met most of them through an app called Couch Surfing. The app helps people find a place to stay during their travels, but it is also a cool way to have a cultural exchange. In addition, Couch Surfers have created a community of local friends. Honestly, when we let people know we were having dinner at our apartment we invited maybe 2-3 people and had 5-7 people show up. We didn’t know it was a +1 kind of party. As we continued to have dinners, more and more people came. It was a blessing to hear these people’s stories and backgrounds.
The conversations we got to have with them were beautiful, being able to talk openly about our faith was too good. I realized during our conversations that just like a lot of religions, there are many that have been bogged down by the rules and their religion feels more like chains than being set free. Some of them shared that they do their best to obey the rules and pray five times a day but sometimes they only get a few. Some told us that they are Muslim because their family has been Muslim for ages. Most of them vented and said they are not good Muslims. I felt my heart become heavy for them to hear that Jesus saves us and makes us clean and the burden of becoming righteous isn’t on us but Jesus. However, as I write that, I feel it is somewhat the same in the states with Christianity. There should be a difference right? If we believe that Jesus came to restore us and save us, and not to have us earn our way to heaven then we should stop trying to perform right? There are many of us, myself included that are doing our best to fulfill God’s commandments. We get caught up in the to do’s of following Jesus instead of enjoying Him. When that happens, life is a burden and we are not living anymore, just existing.
I believe if we want to do well in following Jesus, we have to let God’s love show us the way. “The love of Jesus was his identity, his focus, his priority. Love was how he started and how he lived his life, and love led him to finish well.” (Judah Smith)
Judah is talking about the difference in how John followed Jesus and how Peter followed Jesus. Peter does his best to follow Jesus but he ends up denying Him three times and flees. John is one there at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion. John let Jesus’s love lead the way.
The idea of taking up your cross is to reflect on what Jesus did. Jesus’s love defines us and that allows us to enjoy life with God and share with others.
That month in Indonesia I definitely saw that awesome Jesus love lead the way. I remember a teammate telling me that I live in such freedom and I need to continue to share that with others.
It isn’t easy though, because I know as humans we tend to be selfish and think inwardly all the time. It is easy for me to fall into that trap daily. But when I remember God’s love is there even when I choose to do right or wrong it is life-changing. God has seen me as a perfect son from the get-go, because of Jesus’s sacrifice. That is what gives me freedom and following Jesus is easy because I know the God He is.
I am loved by God and that love is contagious.
The locals we met in Indonesia, we got to not only share about this love but live it. One of the Couch Surfers we met was named David. David and I got real tight, and we hung out almost every day. Shared meals, played Futsal, cheered on the local soccer team, and ate Nasi Goreng.
David told me “You love differently, I have never experienced a love like this, we are brothers” and in response I said, “the love I have is only what I have received from Jesus”. It is clear that the Kingdom of Heaven came near to the locals we encountered.
As of right now, I am in Walvis Bay, Namibia. Thank y’all for reading, as always I appreciate the prayer support. Much Love!