It happened a few years back. We were cleaning up after dinner, the sun was setting, and that quiet of early evening had settled on our little neighborhood. Not much was going on outside, just an occasional person out walking their dog, maybe someone coming home after a long day. When all of a sudden a flash, a big pop, then a bang, followed by a loud buzz and a fizzle, then nothing. Some of the lights went out across the street. Like it was planned, people began to emerge cautiously from their houses, some looking up in the sky, some looking in the direction of the noise, most looking at each other as they gravitated towards one another. “Did you hear that?” “Yeah, I saw a flash.” One neighbor who lived closer to the sound said he thought we blew a transformer and said another neighbor had already called the power company emergency line. Some of us walked closer to the area, and sure enough, a power pole transformer was smoking and a power line was down. Well, some fire trucks arrived and the power company came as we all looked on. No one was hurt and no real damage except for a little scorching of a few plants, but all was well.
The neighbors wandered back to their homes, but something was different. They were introducing themselves to each other, remarking that though they saw each other occasionally, they had not known each other’s names. I met a few neighbors as well. It seems we all, in the business of life, had not been afforded the opportunity to make a connection with those we lived by. One neighbor commented to me that it was interesting that it took a little occurrence like this to get better connected to the people around us.
The reality is we as a society have become more and more isolated. The stress of life, the individualization of entertainment, the captivation with social media, and the way we pack our schedules with very little home time, we don’t have much opportunity to connect. Yet we were created to connect and be in relationship, in community, with others. We are social beings.
One of the wisest men that ever lived, King Solomon wrote this in the Bible book of Ecclesiastes:
Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 7 Again, I saw vanity under the sun: 8 one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business.
Yes, isolation and loneliness tends to bring on unhappiness. Now sure, some people like less interaction than others, but like Legos we were designed to connect to each other. Some Legos have many places to connect, others just a few, but all are designed to be attached. What fun is a lone Lego?
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him – a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
All over the Bible we are encouraged to connect.
John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
One of the best ways to do that is learn each other’s names. Why not try this… make a hashtag, “#” place your home in the middle square. Now go around and get to know the names of each of the neighbors that touch your property or apartment. See if you can fill in the names surrounding the middle square of the hashtag where your house lies. If you know their name, get to know a bit of their story, their history, their likes and dislikes, and such. As you do this, you will be living out Jesus’ command to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39).
Don’t wait for some incident to connect. Be the good neighbor and initiate that connection. You may discover a wonderful new friend!
Church is a great place to connect and learn how to be that good 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 as we are in the beginnings of a new teaching series called, “There’s Room: Life in God’s Family.” We are learning 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 be that loving neighbor Jesus asks us to be. Our website has all the information you would need. www.cypresschurch.net . It would be great to have you join us.
Seeking to connect with my neighbors alongside you,