I confess. I do not love my neighbors as I should. Last week, as I was running through the streets of my city, I realized how much easier it is to connect with people in the virtual world than in the real world. The common interests and pursuits provide pathways for networking online that are not readily there in the context of everyday life. You have to make them.
At the beginning of this year, I did the typical evaluation of my life to see where a “new year’s resolution” would be appropriate. What kept coming back to me was the fact that I need to be a better neighbor. No, actually, I just need to be a neighbor. To love them, serve them, pray for them, and bring the gospel to them.
We are living in a world where the front porch has been replaced by Facebook, kids playing in the streets replaced with interactive gaming online, and “friending” someone is more likely to be seen to writing on a wall rather than going across the street. The good news for this new year’s resolution is that it has not faded over the past four months; instead, it has increased.
On a broader scale, I think that when it comes to conservative evangelicalism, we could be a lot more obedient to Christ’s command to love our neighbors. But I want to begin with me, and then to share some of the ways I have been (and continue to) seeking to repent of my apathy towards my neighbors. Paul reminds us that God has “determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,” and since that is true, God’s providential placement should be wedded to an intentional pursuit of the hearts of those nearest me for the expansion of His kingdom.
In summary, (1) God has called me to love my neighbors, (2) God has placed me around my neighbors, and (3) God has given me a mission to make Christ known among my neighbors. I cannot expect them to come to me. I must go to them. I should not expect anyone else to reach them. I must take ownership of my own neighborhood for the cause of Christ. If it is that simple, then why am I not doing it?