Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Do your neighbors know you?

Let me throw myself under the bus before I even get started: I am not a very good neighbor. Because of my overly busy life, selfishness and independence I often pass people by with more important options. Beside these gaping flaws, I am also not a people person - I do like people, I absolutely know I need them in my life, and I love to love; but my head knows what my heart doesn't yet. As I have become more introverted with age, or, perhaps realizing that introversion is actually my true state and an extroverted self was a facade I wished to display, it is also this I must fight when it comes to being a friend to all those around me.

Starting my internship with JUSTembrace just two weeks ago, I have spent just as much time being a neighbor as I have hanging out with new friends on the streets. This mixture has been both challenging and eye opening to my own flawed view of living out the Love God; Love Neighbor command. It helps to break down the "Us - Them" concept. I am starting to realize that the people I build relationships with on the streets are not service projects, just as my neighbors aren't service projects. This has happened because we tend to understand that our neighbors are just fine, and can get along without us - but the homeless? Don't they need me?

No, and I've known that for quite some time now. However, what I practice and what I preach hasn't been as clear and for that I am sorry. Through being a friend and being available to my neighbors, and also accepting their friendship and aid, I have seen that we truly must love our neighbors as the Command says. For when we live this way, loving our neighbors as ourselves, we can begin to look to everyone as a neighbor; as a friend. And you will have the tools to know how to both give and receive friendship as it is intentionally meant to be.

When I started writing this, I wanted to talk about Acts 8 and how Saul knew who the church was because he knew where they lived; Saul knew where to find the their homes. He didn't have to wait and go to the church building to find all the Christians on Sunday morning. So, I ask, do your neighbors know you? Do they know you're the Christians? Not because they see you pulling your van out of the driveway Sunday morning, but because you have offered your friendship and love to them? Giving without expecting anything in return?

Like I said, so far, I've been miserable at living this out. It will continue to be a very difficult lifestyle. As I live it out, though, I see that this is what community is; not a forced entity we create in our minds - but a reality that is defined by how you live. My community has been poor, and now it is becoming rich. Thank you, Jesus, and help me to love my neighbors as I love You.


Donna Boucher said...

I am a terrible neighbor :(

Life with Kaishon said...

When I started seeing the people I work with as less of a project and more as humanity things got better for me in the city. I am so glad you are discovering this so young : )

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