Begin to Love Your Neighbor

I watch them walk every morning. They put on their reflective jackets and get outside, usually before the sun is up. On occasion, they stop, and we chat if I am out there. Normally they do their thing and I do mine. It is nice having neighbors who are real. It is nice having people live down the street who call when they see the fire trucks leaving your house to check on your family. It is a blessing to have them so close, yet remain at a distance. They always have encouraging words for us. We have grown to love our neighbors.

How do you fall in love with perfect strangers? We don’t live the same. We have very different homes, cars, lifestyles. We have been passing each other on the road for eleven years, and recently have had the privilege to get to know them. God’s providence is overwhelming sometimes. They are amazing people, and we had no idea. We never asked. We moved out here for some quiet, and we maintained it. In looking for one thing in our lives, we accidentally sacrificed something else.

We never served our neighbors. We never got to know them. We wasted nine of the eleven years. I feel almost embarrassed.

Do you know your neighbors? Do you know who should be at their house when they are away? Do you know who their family is in case of emergency? Is there some way to serve them? An even better question-

What if what you think you know is dead wrong?

What if you lived next door to someone this whole time and found out you could have easily served them or befriended them, and by the time you figure it out, it’s too late?

What if we all took an intentional moment to get to know our neighbors? Not intimately, but basically?

I would like to issue a challenge. Let’s try to answer these questions about our own neighbors and see how many we get right, or know at all.

**Is your neighbor married, widowed or divorced?

**Are there kids?

**What is their vocation?

**Do they attend church somewhere?

**Where are they from?

**Do they have pets?

**If they are elderly, does someone come visit regularly?

**Do you know their names?

**How long have they lived there?

**Have you ever introduced yourself?

I can now answer each of these questions without fail. The best part is, if I get stuck, I can just ask them. Our neighbors are important assets to our community. The tiniest things can be done to create unity in a small part of a neighborhood. As each neighbor reaches out to the ones next door, the intention spreads and people begin to realize we aren’t all so different after all.

We all have the same basic needs. We all live in the same world. We have the same grocery stores and pharmacies. We work in the same businesses and we serve our families. We all send our kids to some kind of school or educate them at home. We eat at restaurants, we vacation on beaches and mountains, and we celebrate various holidays. We eat, drink, shop, work, rest and play. When we get the flu, we all feel exactly the same- completely undone.

We all want the same exact things, yet we don’t take the time to get to know our immediate neighbors. It is about time we find out what we are missing. It is time to make friends instead of accusations. It is time to make a fresh start in our lives by standing up for ourselves and our families by forging relationships with the very people who live right next door.

It’s like everything else. Baby steps are so important. We can start with scripture.

Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV)

The Greatest Commandment

34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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