Dear Neighbor – Hey You, my Neighbor
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40
My Dear Friends,
Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (not from me, but from 1 John 4:7).
You don’t know me personally, but since we are alive and breathing here on planet Earth, that makes us, in a certain way, neighbors. And since God made each of us in His image and intended for us to reflect His Glory, we can be friends.
So friend, what have you thought about this recent series? Have you thought about how to apply it for yourself, personally? Do you realize that the strength of your vertical relationship is demonstrated by the outworkings of your horizontal relationships? That is, much of your prayer time (vertical) may not be visible, but how you love others (horizontal) is very visible.
Following one of Jesus’s last intimate times with His closest disciples, He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35). It is by our love for one another that the world comes to know that we are followers of Jesus.
So we have the commandment to love others. Is loving others easy? Not for most of us. Any extension of love entails risk and possible hurt. And even harder when loving from your own, finite strength than from God’s supply (Galatians 5:22). We also have God’s warming and healing our own hearts, sweetly enabling us to risk and love others around us.
What are some practical ways to demonstrate this love, while still contending with COVID-19 and societal tension? The Joshua Commission has seen friends set-up lawn chairs in their driveways to share beers out front while getting to know the neighbors. Others have been peacemakers within their own households (2 Cor 3:11). Still others have shared meals and recipes across their back decks. Some have had phone calls to hear what is on the hearts of those they may not agree with but know the conversation will lead to deeper understanding. There is something powerfully neighborly in hearing someone’s concerns with an eager ear and having desire to help them work it out.
Jesus’s love is extravagant and extraordinary. Perhaps a contemporary example would be the most conservative and liberal households you can imagine, as neighbors; then imagine the conservative kneeling with their liberal brother to support their social injustice cause, and then the liberal preparing snacks and filling up water bottles for their conservative brother as they head off for a pro-life event.
What is most important is to find personal courage and intestinal fortitude for this battle. So love your neighbor, those nearby and those far away. Those you know and those you don’t know yet. Love them in a way that communicates you love them more than you have before. In short, answer the call, “Be their Neighbor!”