Let me ask you…how well do you neighbor? Do you know the names of your neighbors? Do you know their stories…their needs?
If the reason you don’t know them is not because you are in a different stage of life, then maybe busyness is to blame. Maybe you don’t really know your neighbors or love them well, because you are just too busy. Or maybe it’s because your neighbors are weird! (We all have them.) And if you can’t think of any weird neighbors, maybe you are the weird neighbor.
Either way, does your level of neighborliness depend on your neighbor? Or do you neighbor well despite who your neighbor is?
What kind of impact could we have on our communities if we all were intentional to move from stranger to acquaintance to friend with all of our neighbors? I am convinced that we could make major change in the world if we just start by loving our neighbors.
So who is your neighbor? Glad you asked!
Jesus answers that same question with a parable about a man who, while traveling from one town to another, was beaten, robbed, and left for dead. A couple religious people pass by, but they step over him on their way to wherever they’re going. (Side note: it’s been my experience that the most religious people can be the least compassionate people.)
This is possibly the most well known of Jesus’ parables and most of you know how it goes. The thing that has always stuck out to me and I’ve not heard many others speak to is this…
When we consider our neighbors, we can’t ignore needs.
It seems to me that Jesus is binding the two together here. There is an obvious connection between neighbor and need. The man who was robbed had a huge need. The Samaritan passing by chose to meet his need. This was the answer to who is my neighbor.
When I gave this message in The Gathering for Multiply Church, I shared examples of what to say and what not to say as we begin to reach out to our neighbors. The list was funny and people laughed, and we should have fun with this. Rather than feeling like an obligation, I think Jesus understood that it was in our best interest–part of living into abundant life–that we make loving our neighbors a priority.
So who is your neighbor and how do you love him or her?
The best first place to start is by knowing the name of your neighbor. After all, how are you supposed to know the need of your neighbor when you don’t know the name of your neighbor? So let’s start there. If those you live closest to are only “buddies” or “mans” or “hey theres,” let’s go through the potentially awkward first step of learning (and remembering) names.
Then we can move onto needs…