What if when Jesus says “love your neighbor as yourself,” He means your ACTUAL neighbor? Those people living in the house next to yours or across the street. Those people with two dogs and a really nice car. The two women in the white house with black shutters.
What if we got to know the people who live closest to us, not in order to invite them to church or to drop a tract on their doorstep, but to really love them well? What would change if we pursued real relationships with those physically closest to us?
These are the questions New Covenant’s Family Experience (FX) is exploring this year. We want to take what Jesus has asked of us and put it into action.
In my own life, loving the people closest to me can be intimidating and scary. I often second guess myself until the time has passed to take any action at all. My deepest desire is to get myself out of the way! Instead of responding in hesitation, I want to be obedient to the Holy Spirit so God can work.
If I am ever going to succeed at this I need help from others and people I can practice with. That is why we meet together and why groups are important. We need people who will push us when we hesitate and/or give steps when we are not sure what to do. Imagine what it could look like to celebrate or suffer alongside your neighbors.
What if you learned a young couple on your street has dreams of parenthood but is struggling with infertility? As you get to know them, you see their eyes light up when-
ever they speak of it, and you begin praying that God would fulfill this desire of their heart. They share with you the joys and hardships of their journey. They finally get pregnant! This baby you have prayed over and prayed for is such a joy! You host a baby shower and your neighborhood celebrates with them when the baby finally arrives.
What if you discovered a neighbor recently had surgery? You drop off a simple meal and have a conversation. You discover he is a widower, lives with his adult daughter and loves to garden. He begins to bring you the extra from this garden he loves. Every week, more tomatoes and more conversation.
These are the stories of loving our neighbors. This is what Jesus meant, this is pursuing others and this is what I need to be reminded of. God is always at work in and through us.
It is incredibly humbling to be the tool God uses to pursue the people right outside your door. Being this tool is simple but difficult, radical but natural, individual but communal. Let’s be a community who encourages one another to radically pursue others.