Months ago, I loaded a truck up with 12 bags of luggage and a family of four to take them to the airport so that they could move back to Australia. Frantic to make it to the airport on time, we loaded up the truck. I made it about 6 feet when I realized that we had a flat tire! We had no options to get them to the airport. It was getting dark and there was little hope that the Los Angeles airport would pause for us to arrive. I attempted to jack up the car and change the tire to the spare. However, the jack couldn’t get the truck up high enough.
I desperately ran to my neighbor’s house and asked him if I could use his floor jack. He could see the desperation in my eyes as he walked me to his garage. There, in the distance was a wonderful commercial sized floor jack to change the flat. I was able to fix the tire and get them to their flight on time. They sent me Tim Tams and Aussie licorice for my trouble! The point of the story is this: I’m so glad that I already knew my neighbor because pounding on their door at 10 pm without previous relationship might have not gone very well. I had invested time and energy in that relationship earlier, so we had a history. I also knew that he had lots of tools.
Loving God and loving your neighbor appear to be intimately connected. In this case, the order is very important for us. Love God first and out of that love, love your neighbor. You most certainly put your socks on before your shoes and for good reason, because the order is important. If we want to be a people that love our neighbors, as God would have us, we first need to experience the love of God for ourselves. Then, we can reflect his powerful love in our relationships.
We need to be a people that are willing and able to be inconvenienced with opportunities to love our neighbors. Imagine if your reputation in your neighborhood was that you continually build people up and put courage inside of them, that you took time to listen, be present and be helpful. I wish I had neighbors like that so I should take the initiative and be that kind of neighbor.
This probably happens to you a few times a week. You’re walking out to your car and someone is walking their dog past you, your neighbor is mowing their yard, someone is grabbing their mail or they are pushing out their trash cans and you lock eyes. What do you say or do? You probably do what I do. Your first inclination is that you do that “nod.” You know that one, the one that says, “I see you, you see me, we saw each other.” The nod is slight and it is really more of a slight chin tuck towards the chest, like you’re a genie granting a wish. Let’s be honest. Is that really taking advantage of a God given relationship? Probably not!
So, I challenge you to take that genie nod and upgrade to a “How are you? How are things? How’s the family?” Be super adventurous and attempt a handshake, it’s a novel idea. Take a posture of engagement with your neighbors, get interested and involved in their lives.
Pray that you can take advantage of the next opportunity that comes your way to be a good neighbor. Pray that God will help you, because it can be intimidating to approach a stranger that is your neighbor.
(Maybe now is a good time to take a quick walk around the block and see if you get a chance to be a good neighbor? Don’t wait for them to come to you, you have already been sent by God!)
Adapted From: Life On Mission - You Version