As a kid, living in a small community had its perks. Everyone knew everyone (and everyone’s business).
Cookouts were, relatively, non-exclusive (as long as you brought a dish).
And if we ran out of eggs or milk, mom would just send us over to the neighbors to borrow some.
We knew our neighbors and they knew us.
That was over 20 years ago.
Times have changed. Our culture is different. We aren’t as mindful to know our neighbors.
But why? Are we too busy? Not interested? Has a neighbor hurt us? Do we not see the personal benefits in it? Are we afraid to invite them in? Too fearful to open up our lives to complete strangers? Or just plain lazy?
We could use every excuse in the book as to why we haven’t tried to know our neighbors. By His design, God gave your NEIGHBOR to you (baggage and all) -- and God gave YOU to your neighbor. If we’re called to be difference-makers in our communities what are we doing to be different from our culture? How are we getting to know our neighbors? It’ll never be easy or uncomplicated and will require a balance of healthy fear and trust. Fear, not of what could happen if we DO reach out, but instead, fear of what could happen if we don’t. Trust, not in the individual (because we, as people, are not 100% trustworthy), but instead, trust in the One who has called us to the community in which we live.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 22:37-39 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Renovation Church is going to be all about reaching our neighbors. So what are some simple things that you can do to help renovate a community, one person at a time?
Listen Carefully. When you listen and remember your neighbor you are showing that you value them. Engage them in an ongoing conversation (ask them about how their thanksgiving went, or what their plans are for Christmas). Remember their names and things that you might bring up for the next conversation. Your second impression will be just as valuable as the first.
Take your time. Relationships take time and meaningful relationships take a lot more time. So start small. Invest a little over a long period of time. This speaks greater volumes than a friend who was only a friend for a short season.
Invite them in. Invite them over for coffee. Organize a play date at your house so they can see into your world. Or, take the big plunge and invite them over for dinner (even Jesus, son of God, used mealtime to his advantage).
Love well (beyond your capacity). Seeing and meeting the needs of your neighbor can get messy, uncomfortable, and even a little awkward. But loving well means making room for the messy, uncomfortable, awkwardness. Know that you can’t love them on your own. Jesus loves them far beyond your capacity. So, love the Lord (first) and then love them as yourself.
Question: How would reaching your neighbors renovate your community?
Leave a comment below.
- Emily Ondish