This morning I took a few minutes to jot down 10 reasons why I believe a life devoted to neighboring well is important for a Christian.
- Loving your neighbor is central to Scripture’s teaching. Jesus summarized the teachings of Scripture in the Great Commandment to love God supremely and love your neighbor sacrificially (Matt. 22:24-40). To identify with Jesus and not obey this command to love your neighbor is to call Him Lord but do not do what He says (Luke 6:46).
- Jesus modeled loving your neighbor well. Disciples are learners and followers. Those who follow Jesus will model their lives after Him in how they love their neighbors. Whether the woman at well, Matthew and his friends, or Zacchaeus on the tree, Jesus engaged people where they were, loved them well, and spoke truth that changed their lives.
- Love is the great apologetic for Christianity. The world will know we are disciples of Jesus by the love we have for one another (John 13:34-35). The most convincing argument for the gospel of Jesus Christ is the loving, sacrificial life it produces. When the world looks for the best lovers, they should find Christians completing that list.
- Neighboring involves ordinary life on mission for every disciple of Jesus. In recent years, I have had so many people share with me that they believe God calls all Christians to live on mission, and yet they do not know how or what that looks like. Neighboring well is accessible to all Christians regardless of personality types, giftings, stage of life, or geographic location. Where you live, work, and play can and should be controlled by a desire to love neighbors well and make disciples of Jesus.
- Neighboring well is part of Scriptural requirements for elders in a local church. While often overlooked in elder qualifications, 1 Tim. 3:7 says “he must be well thought of by outsiders…”. Who are the outsiders? How should a church honor this prerequisite and search it out? Would it not be his neighbors? Those outside of Christ in his community? If a man is being considered for the office of an elder and does not know a neighbor well (or better yet, they don’t know him well), should he legitimately be considered to lead a church?
- Neighboring well gives practical expression to seeking first the kingdom of God. Matt. 6:33 is a verse I see everywhere in Christian bookstores (paintings, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, etc.). Kids are taught to sing it when they are young. Yet when I ask people, “What does seeking the kingdom first in your life looks like?” I get a blank stare. What does prioritizing the kingdom look like? How do we pursue it? Neighboring well and life on mission provide practical expression and follow through to that command of Jesus, to see the invisible kingdom made visible in your world.
- Neighboring well provides a building block for gospel growth and multiplication. When Christians learn how to live on mission, love neighbors well, and make disciples through those relationships, this slow, steady progress builds a gospel infrastructure for growth and multiplication in a community. Disciples who make disciples form the DNA for a gospel community that starts new gospel communities, that in turn gather into healthy growing churches. Planting churches without this DNA make be possible through events, but they will not create a movement.
- Neighboring well and life on mission prepare Christians to serve on mission cross-culturally. A Christian cannot export into another culture and context what they are not already doing in their own context. You cannot put on the missionary t-shirt when you get off the plane and somehow expect to do in another country what you have been unwilling or untrained to do in your own front yard. The best missionaries over there are the best missionaries over here.
- Life should not be considered a series of events to attend; rather the grand event is ordinary life itself. I am afraid that if Christianity wants to make a mark in the world, we have to do it with a big event or crusade. We need less crusades and more crusaders who humble live in obscurity with the joy of sharing the light of the gospel where they live, work, and play. Events are not all bad, but if you look at how Jesus made His mark in the world, it was in the small, in the few, in the almost hidden moments of His life that eventually turned the world upside down.
- Neighboring well is a practice transferable and reproducible for anyone. Whether you are a business executive or stay-at-home mom, a college student or a retired senior, an introvert or extrovert, a young Christian or been one for decades, neighboring well and living on mission is a way of life any Christian can embrace, invite others to join, and reproduce in word and deed. How much of what our churches do to reach the community can be accomplished by the everyday Christian in everyday life?
So there are my ten reasons from this morning’s reflection on neighboring well and living on mission this way. Let me know your thoughts and feel free to push back.