If you want to love your neighbors like Jesus, it often doesn’t take great acts of kindness or huge sacrifices on your part, but simply being open to seeing what their needs are, and willing to help out when and where you can.
I ran across a great statement in Kathy Escobar’s blog post “Dreamers, lovers, and status-quo rockers”:
I’d say that the most defining part of my faith–the center of what I believe–is the love of people & redemptive community. The way I connect with God is through relationship with people.
Even though Kathy’s statement does not describe our “agenda,” it describes our experience. We love people because we are followers of Jesus, but have discovered that in the loving we are connecting with God!
How does this happen? Perhaps some current real-life examples with some of our neighbors will help explain.
On the 4th of July, the morning after the block party, our phone rang not long after we got up. Our neighbor, a single woman, told us that her kitchen drains had backed up and her plumber wasn’t available on the holiday. She asked if I could look at the problem.
Half an hour later, I had determined that there was a blockage inside the wall. I needed a plumber’s snake and a plumbing fitting to fix the problem. One neighbor loaned me a snake, and another neighbor found the necessary fitting in his box of plumbing supplies. Three neighbors cooperated to provide tools, supplies, and labor to help a fourth neighbor!
Later that afternoon the woman whose drains now worked phoned us once again to thank us and to tell us about her conversation with her mother, an elderly lady who lives alone, about forty minutes from us. Our neighbor had told her mother about the block party, her neighbors and the cooperation of her neighbors in getting her drains unstopped that morning. Her mother told her that she (the mother) would like to have neighbors like that who she could call if she got in trouble (She has concerns about living alone).
The following day, another neighbor, with whom we had become better acquainted while talking with him about the block party, saw us walking and invited us to see what he had done with his house. I owned one contracting business and managed another and am not easily impressed with remodels, but I was very impressed with his. He has made an extraordinary number of improvements to his home, many one-of-a-kind modifications. Without a doubt he is a borderline genius.
As we walked through his house, he told us his story, his achievements and some of the difficulties he has faced. He told us his dreams, dreams for his future, including business dreams. When we hear someone’s story we see the hand of God, where God has been working in their life and glimpses of His plan for their future.
Real Life with Real People
These stories may not be the dramatic stuff of famous books or sermons, but are the simple, yet beautiful stories of real life with people we know: our neighbors. They are stories of where we see God, in people we know, in our neighbors, in our neighborhood.
We have discovered that we connect with God when we connect with the people who cross our paths in the course of everyday life.
Do you have stories of experiencing connecting with God when you connected and formed relationships with other people? Share any that you might have in the comment section below!