With it being Summer and all, I’ve had a little more time to read books. I don’t have any regularly scheduled Bible Studies and things like that during the Summer, so I end up reading a lot more. I just finished reading “Love Lives Here” by Maria Goff. It was such a good book, and really got me thinking about loving my neighbors.
I think I mentioned in my last post that I had just heard Bob Goff speak at a conference not too long ago. Bob and Maria are married, and I think they are such an interesting pair. They are so different, so reading her book was interesting to me after seeing what Bob is like. They both shared stories of loving their neighbors. They have a parade in the neighborhood, and have relationships with their neighbors, and really love these people well. Their stories inspired me, and just really made me think that’s what it looks like to love others like Jesus.
I, on the other hand, have found it difficult to even get to know my neighbors. I never see many of them out, and I am not one to just go knock on people’s doors. I just don’t want to bother anyone. They seem not to want to be bothered. I don’t know if that’s really true, but it has taken four years of us living here to finally get to know at least a few of them.
For most of you, I’m guessing you may be in a similar situation. If you are a mom, it’s difficult, because you are taking care of your own little ones at the moment, and you can’t always do much for others. I have been in that place since we have moved in, but I am able to do a bit more now that my kids are older. It is hard to find the balance, though. There are many other areas in my life where there are relationships to maintain, sometimes it seems a bit overwhelming to add neighbors to the list.
I just think about how it used to be, neighbors were like family. They were people you counted on for things, because, well, they are right there. All of my neighbors are at different stages of life than me. Most of the close neighbors have older kids, they are grown and out of their house. So, it’s hard to find things in common at times. I am trying to make sure I obey God about how I interact with the neighbors around me, and I know that we are not called to everyone, well, because there is only so much of us to go around.
I have gotten to know a couple of neighbors better, since God has opened my eyes to these people around me. Some have been over little conversations here and there over the years, and I felt God call me to pursue a couple of them more intentionally. Like, having them over for dinner or just taking time to help them with something. God is teaching me to not be afraid to invite people over for dinner, and to just be the one to make the first move. Sometimes, I get caught up in where things are going with a new friendship, what it will turn out to be. I just need to obey God in that moment, even if that’s all it ever is. I tend to also judge where a person is at, and I just need to show them Christ’s love. His beautiful, unconditional, selfless love. That is very hard at times, because you want people to be like you and think like you. As I have learned this year though, Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to save it. My job is not to be the judge. Jesus will do that next time around. I have to love people where they are at, and God will do the rest. He will show me what to say, and what to do. I simply need to surrender my all to Him, and His Holy Spirit will give me all I need.
We do need to love our neighbors, really love them, in a radical, selfless way. We can not do this in our own strength, though. Take the pressure off of yourself. We can not do it ourselves, I repeat, WE CAN NOT do it at all without Jesus living through us. Just let Him lead you to love your neighbor, that can be someone next door, it can be your husband, it can be your kid, or it can be your crazy co-worker. God had placed these people in our lives for a reason. Let’s love them like crazy in a majorly unloving world.
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31 NIV