I’ve been reading a book lately that often has me slowly exhaling as I nod my head up and own. I nod my head because I agree and I exhale slowly because I know I’m not doing what the book prescribes. The book is called The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. The concept of the book is simple: we have a divine responsibility to obey the second great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, with our actual neighbors; those who live next door, across the street, and around the corner. Many of us Christians do this well with those who are a part of our church or our clique inside the church, but let’s face it, we have dropped the ball countless times with those who live closest to us.
One of the reasons for this is found in a sentence I read last night: “…it’s easy to make assumptions about other people when you don’t really know anything about them.” That’s probably not something new and profound for you, but it’s something I needed to read.
As we see our neighbors out mowing their grass, putting the kids in the van, tinkering around in the garage, or taking their dogs for a walk, we interpret what we see. But the problem is that what we see provides very little information about who our neighbors really are. Add to that our tendency to think the worst of people and you’ve got a recipe for a safe, independent, yet ungodly way of living.
Church, if we will take the time to engage our neighbors in real conversation, then we will discover that many of the assumptions which keep us from having relationships with them, will fly right out the window. So, today, will you pray and ask God for the grace and courage to interact with your actual neighbors and then make a plan for how to do this? I pray so…for you and for me.