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 complete a neighbourhood grid. How did it go?
This grid has been completed by people all over North America, and the creators report that about 10% of people can fill in every name on the grid. About 3% can write down one fact about each neighbour, and less than 1% can write something of depth about every neighbour.
Yes, Jesus says love your enemies, and we should work towards this. Unfortunately, we can’t start there very easily, since if we aim for everything, we usually hit nothing. Trying to be neighbours with everybody all at once often means we’re neighbours with nobody. We need to start somewhere.
In our culture, we often experience the opposite problem as Jesus’ original hearers. They lived in a tightknit community with strong traditions and bonds. Loving their similar neighbours came naturally, but loving enemies did not. Their definition needed broadening.
In contract, our culture can make this story too metaphorical and remote. We don’t regularly see wounded enemies laying on the road, and can tell ourselves, “if I do, I live in a country with universal health care so I can leave it to the profesionals.” For us, our definition of loving neighbour can start out too broad, and needs narrowing so we can learn to truly love, and not just write people off.
There are two ways we will start off easy. We’ll start with our actual neighbourhood or cubicle cluster. Secondly, if love sounds mushy or weird, we can just start with learning names, and then we can figure it out from there.
Challenge: For this week, work on learning all the names possible in your grid. If you don’t know them all, just go knock on their door and ask. You may find out they forgot your name, too!
Have you completed the neighbourhood grid yet? If not, click here: https://www.redeemthecommute.com/2013/09/11/strangerstoneighbours