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 we saw Jesus saying the way we treat a hungry, thirsty, stranger, naked, sick, or imprisoned person says something about our desire to join his kingdom. What is the consequence of this story?
The story makes it clear that Jesus’ kingdom is based on generous sacrifice. Our motivation for compassion and care is not to be someone else noticing, or that we’ll get thanked, paid back or will otherwise benefit. It’s not even entirely about the other person’s benefit.
It’s simply the right thing to do, and it’s the overflow of a relationship with God in Jesus.
The deck-building neighbour I described on Monday was also married to a great neighbour. She was a nurse, and one day she came over to check on my wife, who’d fallen asleep laying on the grass resting from gardening. This was part of that nurse’s vocation, it’s not just a job to help people in need, it’s actually part of who she is, and what she is called to do.
Christians have the same kind of vocation to love our neighbours, with friendship, words, and also our actions not because there’s something in it for us, but because it is who we are as citizens of the kingdom of God.
Sometimes this isn’t as easy as checking on a friendly neighbour – not everyone finds visiting prisoners easy, it can be scary. Serving the thirsty can mean travelling places we’d rather not see. Helping those with no clothes can be awkward!
But this is how Jesus challenges us to dispay kingdomliness. He calls us to overcome our fears, prejudices, anxiety for the sake of his kingdom and its values.
Q: List the six needs Jesus wants his followers to meet:
+ The hungry
+ The thirsty
+ The stranger
+ The naked
+ The sick
+ The imprisoned.
Who do you naturally have the most compassion for? Who do you find most challenging to show compassion for? Why?
Remember, we meet for coffee every Wednesday night at Starbucks in the Chapters Store in Ajax, in Durham Region just East of Toronto. Maybe we'll see you there?