I really like our neighborhood and the people we live around. We may not be like one of those super close communities that have grown up together (though I did hear that was case along our street many years ago), but we know people’s names, have had a few gatherings, and help each other out. Like the time Patty rescued me from getting a ticket on street sweeping day. I was studying at home and forgot to move my car in the driveway. Patty noticed and knocked on my door and saved me $45! Tammi has brought us fun desserts. John gives us firewood, and we have had fun conversations and returned the favors. But there are some neighbors we don’t know. They keep to themselves and we have either not had the time or opportunity to connect with them or we really have never seen them. We know someone lives there, but it’s like they are invisible. We have never seen them in their yard or taking out the trash (though the trash containers appear on trash day) or putting up their Christmas lights (yet again, they just appear!), but here we are living in the same area.
Now this connection and interaction among neighbors may not seem like that big of a deal. Yet more and more studies are being done, books written, and experts agreeing, that being good a neighbor matters. Social scientist Robert Putman from Harvard University, in his various books and articles, reveals that studies show the more social cohesion (the more societies work towards the well-being of its members, defends its downcast, and seeking to create belonging and trust) the better life is for each individual and for the community or city they live in. Basically, being a good neighbor makes a difference.
The Bible has been speaking this same truth for centuries. Jesus, when asked what was of utmost importance in life, said this…
Matthew 22:37-40 37 And He (Jesus) said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
These greatest commandments bring life into alignment and they are what biblical law (like the Ten Commandments and the precepts and teaching of God and the whole Bible) and what the prophets of the Bible were communicating.
To love our neighbor as ourselves is to love people how we want to be loved.
Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
Treating others like we want to be treated is not referring to people who are so burnt and hurt by others, that though they push away and act like they want to be ignored, they, like all of humanity want to be loved and treated with kindness, which means we are to be sensitive and not obnoxious, for that is loving.
Romans 12:14-18 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
We are better, life is better, our societies are better when we take the time to love our neighbors. Will you? Sometimes we don’t speak their language or have the same interests nor are we in the same stage of life or enjoy the same things, and our only affinity is our proximity. Yet here we are… neighbors, sharing the same street, the same weather, the same zip code and we may even be sharing the same fence or property line. Sure, we could keep to ourselves like the trend of seclusion and exclusion pulls or that the stress of life tends to influence, but there is an opportunity to make difference in loving our neighbors. Will you? Don’t be invisible in your neighborhood. There is someone around you that needs your care as much as you need to care for them.
Church is a great place to grow and learn how to better love our neighbor. If you are not already connected to a church, we would like to invite you to Cypress Church or one of our branch churches in either Los Alamitos or Garden Grove, for in a few weeks we are starting a new series, “There’s Room: Life in God’s Family.” This is a series from the Bible book of Ephesians talking about creating that inclusive, loving, biblical family sense into our lives. We will also be talking about practical ways to put that into practice in our neighborhoods, to be better at loving our neighbors. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . We would love for you to join us.
Seeking to be a better, loving neighbor, along with you,