I’m betting that Leonard and Sheldon of the Big Bang Theory have no problems ‘loving their neighbor as themselves (Matthew 22:39)”, given the fact that their neighbor is Penny, who, in contrast to their geekish, socially awkward and nerdy ways is worldly, socially adept, and a strikingly attractive blonde. But is this what the call to action of loving our neighbors really means?
For the first time in a long time, I’ve actually not been on travel and have had the opportunity to spend time at home (Oh how I’ve missed my cozy couch, my memory foam lavender slippers, and the smell of my Bath and Body Works Beautiful Day Wallflower). Sorry, I digressed. The point that I want to make is that as I’ve been sitting in my family room, looking out the window, a thought occurred to me---I don’t know my neighbors. So if I don’t even know my neighbors, how can I possibly love them? Sure I can send up an occasional prayer for them, “Dear God, bless all those who live my neighborhood.” Or I could collect their mail for them when they’re out of town. Or I can wave hi, and ask the perfunctory “How are you doing today?” But is this how I’m called to love? Conceptually I get it. I unpacked it in last week’s blog (Unto the Least of These). But what does love look like?
Here are a few things that you can try in an effort to intentionally and more meaningfully love others.
- Know Your Neighbors: It’s really hard to love those you don’t know. Start with the people in your immediate neighborhood. Bake cookies and spread the love. Host a neighborhood drop in. Arrange a playdate with your children and children who live nearby. Find out where your more senior neighbors may live and find ways to help them out. Tutor some children who may be struggling. Plan time to just sit and chat awhile. And then extend out to your local community, your church family and/or your colleagues. See and be seen. And truly get to know your neighbor beyond hello.
- Get Out of Your Comfort Zone: It’s so easy to love those who are more like us, but we are called to love those who may differ by race, religion, age, gender, socioeconomic status, beliefs, etc. So make a conscious decision to make new friends. Find ways to appreciate another culture (art, music, food, language). Hang out in a different community. Have an open mind, assuming that you can learn just as much from others as you can share with them.
- Invest in the Life of a Child: Who doesn’t love kids! Adopt or become a foster parent. Become a mentor. Volunteer at a school. You’ll be amazed how you will seem to benefit more than the child whose life you impact!
- Be An Ambassador of Christ: It’s my hope that after each interaction with another, their life is somehow enhanced because Christ was reflected in my actions and words. Live a life pleasing of Christ every day, and you’ll bless others without even knowing it. Strive to suspend judgment (not our job anyway), while modeling and encouraging others to walk as Jesus walked.
- Pray for Your Neighbors: “Ooh chil’ I’ll be praying for you.” Have you heard that or made that statement before? Most times we say it in an effort to avoid committing to doing more or in order to get out of having to listen any longer. This is not the type of praying I’m speaking of. I’m talking about that sincere, prolonged, praying that makes a difference. I’m talking about the prayer that has you on your knees til they’re ashy and achy. I’m talking about the prayer that transforms lives! Set aside time daily to bring the petition of others before the Lord. Keep a prayer journal where you can record specific requests of others and document answered prayers. And while you’re praying for others, pray that God gives you a heart like His and that He will equip you to love as He’s asked you to love.
If you don’t know where to begin, you can start by praying for me. I had surgery on Monday and now prepping for 6 weeks of recovery. I think I’ll actually need more prayer for the recovery time as I don’t know how in the world I’ll keep still for that long!
Until then…From my Heart to Yours,
Verse of the week: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
- How might you love your neighbor more (the neighbor in your neighborhood, your community, your church family, etc.)?
- How might you extend help and support to others in need?
- Who could you pray for? Why not start a prayer journal today.
What’s on my Playlist: