Thursday - Act On It - Neighbours to Acquaintances
Time and availability allows us to get acquainted with those near us. You may be discouraged, thinking I’m talking about adding things to your already busy schedule. Sometimes that’s necessary, but usually it’s just about making intentional choices to Love God, Love Neighbour in the midst of daily life.
Think about your downtime – how can downtime connect me with neighbours?
First, be interruptible. I used to have a retired neighbour who was often outside, and always up for a chat. His availability meant I could ask him for a ladder, to get the mail while we were away, etc. My availability to stop and chat meant he could ask me questions about the theology of the church he grew up attending.
You can also make other choices. Stick around on weekends instead of going away. Play in the front yard instead of the back. Putter around your garden, walk the neighbourhood, and read on your porch.
Ask questions, talk about the weather, laugh about something that happened. Ask for referrals – who did your driveway/kitchen/landscaping? Ask about the neighbourhood – how’s X doing? Share something – let someone park in your driveway for a party, or share newspapers.
As you do, get to know their name, and then a bit of their story.
Challenge: Look at your calendar and see how you spend your time over the last two weeks. Reflect on how this compares with your priorities. How can you spend more time with your neighbours, to get acquainted?
Yesterday I asked you to define love. One common way people today define love is to be as tolerant and permissive as possible, as long as the other person does not to hurt others.
See what a low standard that is? Jesus defines love to a much higher degree, he says to love one another as oneself. He knows we are self-centered…and Jesus uses that to teach us love for others.
Between loving God with everything, and loving neighbours as ourselves, Jesus has declared self-salvation to be impossible. We may love God to one degree or another. But with everything? We can and should try, but we reach our limits since we are only human, and separated ourselves from God in sin. We need help.
Equally true, we may make ourselves harmless and never say a word to anyone who isn’t harming another, but we can’t make ourselves completely love others as ourselves – we always want more for ourselves than to be tolerated and put up with. We can and should try to love others as ourselves, but we need the help of another to do this.
Jesus made himself harmless, and willingly sacrificed himself on a cross in the ultimate action of love for God and others. He led the way, and did what would be impossible for humans, so we could follow him in love for God and love for others, rather than trying to trailblaze ourselves.
We’ll look at this more in this upcoming series on neighbours.
Challenge: How do your actions “hang’ under love of God or love of neighbour? Is there anything you’ve done in the last week that doesn’t fit one of those loves?