NEIGHBOR: Five Minute Friday

How appropriate that the word-prompt of the week for Five Minute Friday is NEIGHBOR.

 

This native Texan watched humbled and proud of fellow Texans embracing the needs of neighbors during—and in the aftermath of— the monster storm that was Hurricane Harvey. I’ve felt very far away here in Tennessee, connected only by technology, prayers, and a donation to the Red Cross. (Thank you so very much to all of you who have already made donations of any kind or amount. If you haven’t yet, please help. Rebuilding of the Gulf Coast—rebuilding of lives—is going to take a very long time.)

 

I live in a small, rural town in East Tennessee—smack dab in the middle of Appalachia. The scenery is beautiful. The four distinct seasons are amazing.

 

Many of my neighbors in the county are extremely poor. Some have no running water. And we fuss when the Internet goes down? Literacy is lacking for many. Over 25% of our school-age children live in below-the-poverty-line households. Many more teeter on the edge of that invisible line.

 

Stats in a neighboring county are much worse.

Have you heard of the book (or TV series) Christy? The Christy mission is in the county a mere 30-minute drive from my home.

 

I write all of this to say that sometimes being neighborly—loving my neighbors—stretches me. Pulls me out of my comfort zone. WAY OUT of my comfort zone.

 

And yet . . .

 

 

START

 

When Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment, he said to love God and love our neighbor.

 

Christianity at its essence.

 

Somehow I believe if we truly love God enough to love our neighbors—if we obey His “bottom line” commandments—He will see the depth of our gratitude. I also believe we’ll understand even more clearly how undeserving we are of that love.

 

We Christians love God. Of course. And we also love our neighbors—as long as they look and dress and think like us.

 

As often as not, they don’t.

 

What about those neighbors whose names we don’t even know?

 

The ones with the really crooked teeth . . . bad breath . . . tattered, mismatched clothes.

 

The ones whose language we don’t speak.

 

The ones who curse their children in the middle of the grocery store or spank them for not walking fast enough.

 

The ones whose trash and toys are strewn across their grassless yard, their broken mailbox falling into the street.

 

The ones whose obscenity-laced talk makes us uncomfortable.

 

What about a those neighbors?

 

Surely Jesus didn’t mean for us to love them? After all, we have nothing in common!

 

Yes. He intends us to love them.

 

Especially them.

 

May there be no “them” and “us” in our neighborhoods.

 

STOP

Comments

  1. Our,church is becoming intentional about reaching out to those Eighbors who are “not like us”. Stepping out of our comfort zone is hard but becomes a blessing in disguise

  2. Susan, YES. There should be no “them” and “us.” God has been speaking to me of this more and more. Those in the “us” category need to remember we are sinners and fallen. We just wear it better. God loves all of His creation, no matter how different or how much others can see their sin. He’s given us amazing grace and we need to be vessels of grace to those around us. So hard sometimes. But that is the call, isn’t it?

    Beautiful post.

  3. So true- there should be no them and us. Everyone we meet is someone created and loved by God. It’s not always easy to take on the challenge to love them but if we want to be like Jesus it is what we are called to do.

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