In the world we live in today, neighbors simply don't know one another as they did in years past. Neighbors use to hang out once or twice a week in the 1970s. Today one third of all Americans have never interacted with any of their neighbors. More than half doesn't know their neighbors' names, much less interact or have relationship with them.
I believe God is pleased when we connect with our neighbors and create community. That's the love of Christ in action.
Luke 10:27 - He answered, "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all of your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.
Do you believe God wants us to take an intentional purposeful decision to help and love our neighbors? Simple steps can lead us to touch our community. Have you pondered or prayed about opening your heart and home to serve and love your neighbors? Neighbors can be interesting, wonderful, challenging, and amazing. We've experienced good and also difficult neighbors.
People are going to be people. But all people need love expressed, especially Christ's love.
It's been a practice of my husband and me, when we move into a new neighborhood, to introduce ourselves and try to connect right away. When we have new neighbors move into the neighborhood, we take some type of goodies, a cake, cookies, a welcome basket with a note of introduction and welcome. Some of those have remained friends over the years and across the miles and state lines. They have become lifelong friends. We've prayed together and walked life with them and them with us. We've even made trips to visit to other's states. Hearts bonded by God.
My husband, Karl, has served without pay to mow lawns, trim bushes, make minor home repairs, or lend a helping hand in general. This has been a practice since we have been married. My husband has helped neighbors of all sorts: widows, divorcees, disabled people, and just whoever has a need. He has jumped in to help. A need is noticed and he moves into action. My husband has a hefty job as a maintenance tech at a children's hospital. Serving as a volunteer in many capacities at small and mega churches over the years and now currently, he serves with a cheerful heart and as unto the Lord. As you can see he's a busy man. But he makes room for others and God has certainly blessed him. A heart to serve is what Christ is looking for.
People are important to God. He knows everyone by name. I believe it's important to learn names and to call people by their names. God sees them as special individuals.
You might admit you don't know your neighbor and say "I'm too busy with my family, church family, small groups and now to connect with my neighbors is adding more on my plate". God doesn't guilt people into serving. It's an honor. Baby steps and taking only what is doable. But a friendly "hello" and a gesture of kindness is a powerful act of love. Simply loving God and people is a gift to a hurting and lonely world around you. Jesus was busy but He took time to touch those around him.
Isaiah 58:10-11 - Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well watered garden, like an ever flowing spring.
Ministry awaits you right outside of your front door. Offering a cup of kindness, caring for others is fulfilling and rewarding. Loving your neighbor is a great place for the body of Christ and the Church to grow. One of the great commandments is "to love God and our neighbors as ourselves". I believe, if we taught more of neighboring and hospitality in our churches, our churches would grow exponentially for the Kingdom of God.
Let your neighborhood be a platform for Christ's light to shine in the dark, lonely places. Have you asked the Lord about your neighbors? Ask the One who modeled love unconditionally, "Lord, please show me how to love my neighbor as myself." I'm asking, will you join me? No guilt, but grace. I encourage you to step out of your front door and take the opportunity of valuing and serving others, to connect and unite others and to heal our land. Will you be Jesus' hands and feet and be an ambassador for Christ in your neighborhood?
Some Simple Ways to Serve your Neighbor
Christmas Cookie Exchange Party - I met many women in my new neighborhood when we moved from California to Oklahoma. It was a special outreach.
4th of July Fireworks and Potluck
Create a Facebook Page or Email Neighborhood page. It's helpful for community issues, lawn service, lost pets, classified ads, etc. We belong to one.
A Movie Basket - microwave popcorn, sodas, candy
Children's Basket - Colors, coloring books, crafts, etc.
Breakfast Basket - Bag of powdered donuts, orange juice, fruit, fun paper napkins and plates.
Basket for someone who is sick - pick up dinner, plates/napkins, Sprite, etc.
Call before hand to arrange a time for you to deliver on porch.
The Dollar Tree Store and Wal-Mart are a few of my favorite spots for supplies.
Can we minister to our neighbors during a pandemic?
Can we minister to our neighbors during a pandemic? Absolutely, yes! In a world where gathering is discouraged and fear prevents neighboring, God gives creative ways to ministry to our neighbors. Our hands are not tied. This is an opportunity to love and touch a hurting and frightened world. Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love Your Neighbor as Yourself is Entry TWO in Sanctuary's July series, Simple Pleasures. Have you found a way to reach out to those who live near you during this season of pandemic? Share how you've connected with neighbors in the comments below.
Dorcas Schroeder has been communicating God’s Word for 35-plus years with warmth and grace, inspiring others to pursue a more intimate relationship with Him. Her passion is to see herself and others embrace the joys of walking with Christ in every day experiences. Due to various circumstances in her family, Dorcas became caregiver to both her parents and her brother who suffered with A.I.D.S. Through heartache, disappointment, great losses, and life happenings, she has learned that her source of help came from through the Scriptures that leaped off the pages of the Bible to become a reality. Her ministry is designed specifically for women for Practical Living Every Day. Dorcas’ desire is to show women their true value and worth in God’s eyes and their potential to uniquely influence the world around them. Dorcas enjoys decorating, gardening, & designing electronic cards for hundreds of people throughout the year. Married to the man of her dreams, Karl, for 46 years, Dorcas absolutely loves her husband and two grown children, Karl Jr and Tabitha, their spouses, and six grandchildren. Dorcas and Karl attend & serve at The Bridge in Mustang, OK. Follow her on Instagram @Dorcas7