If the church is to be effective in this age, it will be because we love our neighbors.
My pastor posted this question in an e-mail: do you know your 8 closest neighbors? This could be the people who live on your street, in your dorm room hall, or your apartment building. If you know their names, the names of their kids, their spouses, their hobbies, and the type of work they do, you can say you know them.
Chances are many of you reading this didn’t do much better.
Getting to know your neighbor is scary. You might as well admit it. If you go too deep, you might find out she’s a political activist for the Communist Party. Or maybe she’s a multi-level marketer who is dying to share her awesome opportunity with you, and that is all she can talk about. Maybe her kids are smarter and more accomplished than yours and you can’t help but feel guilty about your own parenting skills.
Another thing that scares us is that if we screw up and offend the person who lives nearby then it will be really awkward for us to even go outside, for fear that person will be waiting in the bushes to get revenge.
Our fears can lead us to imagine the wildest things, most of which will only happen in our minds.
Maybe what scares us more than finding our neighbors’ flaws is having them discover ours.
Here’s how we can start to get over that.
First, understand that we are all messed up in some way.
Second, your neighbor wants to have friends and be loved as much as you do.
Third, Jesus died for you because you are messed up.
Because of the third thing, you can get past number one to fulfill number two. Once you realize you’re a mess, but that Jesus loves you anyway, you have hope. Yes, God could give you what you deserve; but He didn’t. So there’s hope! God will help you love messy people because He loves them. When you do it, you’ll just be doing the same thing He does.
Sure, it’s risky. You might hurt someone or someone might hurt you. But you might find life’s greatest blessings when you invest your life into someone else’s.
Isn’t that worth the risk?
And you’ll begin to understand the love God has for you in a new way.