The best way forward, then, is to invest time in relationships with those who seem open and responsive. When you sense that people are responding to your efforts to neighbor well, then invest time and energy in them. If they don’t, be secure enough to move on.
You won’t like everyone the same
As a person grows more mature in Christ, a by-product of this growth will be an obvious attempt to love their neighbors more consistently over time. But, this does not mean the neighbors will always be liked…or that they’ll always like you! It also doesn’t mean they’ll be as interested in a relationship with you as you are with them.
Just because you’ve decided to adjust your lifestyle and focus on healthy Kingdom community with those around you, it doesn’t mean they’ve caught the same vision as you. In fact, unless you’ve strategically planned your community location with other Christians and moved in to a neighborhood, most of your neighbors won’t have any vision at all. Their lifestyles likely conform to our cultural individualism and identity that I’ve wrote about in the past. If they’re going to be involved at all, they’ll likely just “fall into it” by being drawn to what’s going on.
We must remember that a true circle of relationships in community never consists of equally deep connections between all the members at the same time and in the same way. Some people are drawn to and get along better with some than others. While we would never use this as a basis for separation or sectarianism, we can certainly use discernment with how connections form to be wise about how we invest time, energy and money with others.
You can’t go deep with everyone the same
There will be some people in your community who will always be in the social space of your life. You’ll see them at the community gatherings and spontaneously from time to time. You’ll express the love of Christ to them periodically, but not on a daily consistent basis. This is OK and natural. You simply can’t have everyone in your church life Kingdom community enter into the personal and intimate spaces of your life. We aren’t mentally and emotionally programmed for it, and there simply isn’t enough time to pull it off.
Look for “persons of peace”
So, how do you tell who you should work to move into the deeper spaces of your life? You get into social spaces as often as possible and see where the bonds naturally form. You’re putting out your “feelers” so to speak. You try to encounter as many of your neighbors as you can and then watch the natural progression. There will be certain people that you’ll naturally start to develop a closer bond with than others. Jesus called these “persons of peace.” (Luke 10:5-6) When you notice this happening, it’s your cue to start adjusting your focus to these relationships.
This doesn’t mean you totally and completely forget about everyone else and try to form a clique with those you mesh with better. It just means you’ll give proportionately more time and effort into developing those relationships. You’ll still love others in the community at appropriate times and appropriate ways for the space that you have each other in. This is a good thing.
Jesus had harmony among the spaces of His life
We can learn from Jesus about how to be wise here. He had 3 intimate friends, at least 12 personal friends (likely more because of women and others that followed him), and a larger crowd that followed him wherever He went. He understood space and what it meant to keep harmony in all of them. He also understood that this was the most effective way for any person to have the maximum impact he can have on others’ lives.