How well do you know your neighbor?
I used to live in Arkansas on a dirt road several miles out of town. Our closest neighbor was across the street but you couldn’t see our next-door neighbors’ houses. It was nice living in the country. We would watch the sun set across the fields with the deer playing in the pastures. Our family would go for walks on the dirt road, and we knew the people that lived there. In fact, except for a couple of houses at the beginning of the road, the rest of the houses were owned by the same family.
It was a safe, wonderful place to live.
When we moved to Bay City the culture of where we lived changed dramatically. We went from living in the country to living in a subdivision. We went from having acres between us and our neighbors to having only a few feet between us.
All of a sudden we lived in a place where our we had to make a quick choice on how we would live. Would we retreat into our home and act like we still lived in the seclusion of the country, or would we get outside and meet those around us? Would we embrace the idea of living in community?
We chose the latter, and it has been a wonderful decision.
It is great to know my neighbors! I can honestly say I feel safer for our family because I know the people that live around us. In fact, they aren’t just acquaintances; they are our friends. Our children play with their children. One of our neighbors is an elderly lady who is as sweet as she can be and our children treat her like their own grandma. When we go out of town our neighbors are great about helping keep an eye on our house. Getting to know each of their personalities has been a treat!
Do you know your neighbors?
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus replied “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”. But he didn’t stop there. Then he added, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Then, Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” To this, Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. Many of you already know this story. In telling this, he opened up the scope of who is
Our neighbors are not simply the other people in your particular congregation. Our neighbor isn’t just the person living next door. Our neighbor is anyone who is in need.
Often times I hear people who balk at the idea of doing evangelism because they just aren’t “gifted” to do that. What they don’t realize is that evangelism isn’t difficult at all. All we need to do is live for Jesus and keep the praise of God on our lips. But we cannot do this in a cave (we call it a house) or even inside a fort (often referred to as a church building). We must live this way in the context of neighbors. We cannot fulfill the second greatest commandment if we are never around the ones who are our neighbors. You have been placed where you live so that you can be a missionary fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-29).
So what should you do? My recommendation is to start by something simple. Maybe make some cookies and take them to the houses surrounding yours. When they answer the door, just let them know you’d like to introduce yourself. Then, every time you get the chance, talk to your neighbors. Don’t be in such a rush to drive in and shut the garage door. Do things in your front yard. Invite them over to dinner. Maybe you could even throw a Christmas party or some other gathering where your neighbors are invited to get to know one another.
In knowing and loving our neighbors we will be fulfilling the second greatest commandment, and we will be glorifying God in the process.
May you get to know your neighbors, and may your neighborhood be changed as Jesus infiltrates our community through your hospitality.
As always, if you need anything or would like to pray about something, feel free to contact me at 245-1611 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless you, neighbor!