A CHEAT CODE
In the past 8 years, I’ve had 26 different roommates.
I haven’t tried to live with that many different people, but my friends keep getting married and I keep staying single so that’s just how it is.
And here’s what I’ve learned—living together is a cheat code for deep friendship.
When I get coffee with an acquaintance for the first time, we swap polished stories and thoughts
without sharing much real life together. I can show them exactly the version of me I want them to see, and they can do the same in return. Then we pack up and live our separate lives for the rest of the week.
Roommates—even the bad ones—are hard to hide from because of sheer proximity. They know if you’re messy. They know who you bring home. They know what time your boyfriend leaves. They know what flavor ice cream you eat when you get dumped. And they know how you treat them each day.
Good roommates move beyond spatial proximity into relational proximity. They’re the people you end up at Taco Bell with at 2am. They share their stories and struggles and successes and failures with you. They pump you up before a first date. They buy your favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for you when you get dumped.
Something about committing to living together for an amount of time creates a space where youvcan let your guard down, be real, and be known among a group of people who may or may not
have much in common. That’s the beauty of the roommate relationship.
I think this is why Jesus told his disciples to leave whatever they were doing and follow Him. The disciples likely expected some wise sayings from this famous upstart prophet in Galilee, but instead Jesus gave them an invitation to get close and share their lives together for the next few years. There was something significant Jesus wanted to accomplish in their souls, and it was going to take way longer than a day.
For the next few years they traveled together, cooked breakfast together, partied at weddings together, and did the real work of loving people together. In the same way that you and I become like the people we spend the most time with, the disciples slowly formed their lives around the nature of Jesus. They started to talk like Him and act like Him and even feel the same way towards the world that He did.
That was the genius of Jesus’s whole operation. He knew he was going to die someday, and he’d need to form the hearts of his friends while he was on earth before completely passing on the call to bring the Gospel to the world. Doing so was going to take more than some pithy teachings or a one-time altar call, it took years of proximity to the King himself.
In the same way that Jesus’ friends become more like him through proximity, your roommates are constantly becoming more like you.
That’s a scary thought, I know, but it’s true. They see the kind of person you are.
If His Love and Joy and Peace flow through your life, your roommates feel it. If you talk about Him when you reflect on the day, they hear it. If you give yourself over to the transformative work of prayer, they’ll experience it. And if you’re loving them like Jesus loves them, they’ll see His Love more tangibly than ever.
There’s a word used throughout the Psalms that I love.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)
“Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” (Psalm 26:8)
“Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)
You and I were made to dwell with Jesus. That is our highest purpose. Just like the disciples, we have an invitation to follow and become more like Him, and to help others do the same.
So, be honest and ask yourself:
1. Am I dwelling with Jesus?
Are you the frantic morning visitor who’s always on their way to other (seemingly more important) things? Or are you really dwelling with Him? Is your relationship full of spontaneity, adventure, power, and love?
2. Am I becoming more like Him because of the time we spend together?
If it’s true that you become like the people you spend the most time with, are you becoming more like Jesus in how you speak, act, think and live? Are there parts of your old self dying today to make room for the new coming tomorrow?
3. Are my roommates becoming more like Him because of their time with me?
Is your life leading people closer to Jesus? Does your proximity to Jesus make you love people better? Are people acting a little more like Jesus because you’re open with your life? Do they see you changing? Have you told them why?
Roommates are both an example of Christ’s plan for our own formation, and an opportunity to help others form their lives around the same freedom in Christ that we’ve found for ourselves.
Your house is one of the most crucial opportunities for you to love people well.
Step into that today.
Dwell with Jesus, then go love the people you dwell with just like He does.
Everything will change when you do.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jordan Nations is a writer and speaker in Atlanta who’s passionate about people living full lives. He helps lead a non-profit organization that serves thousands of families across the country each year. He hosts the Burn the Ships podcast and speaks at church and youth events. You can find him online at jordannations.com