Monday, February 4, 2013

Loving Your Neighbors

There is a passage in scripture where Jesus is telling those around him what the greatest commandments are; essentially He says, "Love the Lord and love your neighbors." Sounds simple . . . but it's often not.

A few weeks ago, we had a conversation around a dinner table with some new friends about how we could minister to our neighbors better. "Better?" I thought . . . "What about at all?" They were new to their neighborhood and were discussing some of the difficulties they were having in even meeting those living right next door. That sounded about right from my experience too. We've lived in our neighborhood for three years and barely know the names of those in the same building, much less anything about them . . . or what they believe in.  Those conversations just don't happen naturally (especially when you don't speak the same language).

I've never really been an outgoing girl, one to be the first to make the introductions or extend an invitation. At least not to new faces. It's always a challenge. Scary.

But that doesn't mean I can ignore it. Just not do it. The truth is, I have no idea how to go about getting to know my neighbors, or get to know others that live in the same neighborhood. We all just live our own separate lives. We don't have any common places or shared experiences to draw from.

When we first moved to the city we had great aspirations of knowing our neighbors and being able to minister to them - perhaps share Christ with them. Life quickly took hold and time has slipped by. There was a time when I tried to cultivate a "common place" as others around me, but it didn't last. I don't drink coffee or have a dog to walk which seem to be the requirements to starting a conversation with a stranger around here. 

So, how do I love my neighbors? I'm commanded to do so. It's one of the two greatest commandments from the mouth of our Savior. It's easier to serve those you know. Like my friends in my church. I can easily bring them meals, babysit, etc.; it's easy to love and serve them. But what about the others? The less familiar.

I read the blogs of my friends who have their kids deliver goodies and gifts to the neighbors, they throw parties, help neighbor kids with homework, coach basketball, etc. They sound like they know what they are doing -- they have it all together. And maybe I could get those things to work in my neighborhood, I just haven't worked up the courage to put myself out there yet.

And that opens up another truth -- Loving your neighbor takes energy and time. Intention.

There are so many layers to this; and I fall short of all of them. I keep waiting for something to present itself as the opportunity . .  whatever that is.

How have you gotten to know your neighbors? How do you love your neighbors?
Please share! I'd love to hear!

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