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.

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

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I am coming up on 12 years of blogging (in March). So much of what I have written here has been biographical for me, from my journey as a seminary student, to engaging in Southern Baptist life, to life as a pastor and serving the local church, and my passion for gospel centrality. Over the past couple years, I have blogged less and less for two primary reasons: (1) I wanted to spend more time offline living out my faith in the trenches of ordinary life, and (2) the past couple of years have been a demanding season of growth and transition that necessitated more time away from the computer.

With that said, I have been encouraged by friends to share about the journey of the past few years, specifically as it relates to neighboring and life on mission. I believe I am at a place in life right now where I can take time to blog about these matters, much of it in real-time, as I continue to pursue a life of making disciples, loving neighbors, and developing gospel community.

My plan is to not have much of one. Rather, I will post personal commentary, quotes from resources I am reading, sermons or videos I found helpful, and life on the block. My approach will be that of a practitioner, proven to fail at times, but determined to press into the life Jesus has called us as His disciples.

While I would hope that such a topic would pique the interest of a wide number of people, I realize I may be writing to a rather small number of people. My hope is that all of you would be encouraged and that this tribe would grow.


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1 Peter Memory Moleskine

Week 17 | 1 Peter 5:8-14

[8] Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

[9] Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

[10] And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

[11] To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

[12] By Silvanus, a faithful brother as I regard him, I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

[13] She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings, and so does Mark, my son.

[14] Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.

(1 Peter 5:8-14 ESV)

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Week 16 | 1 Peter 5:1-7

[1] So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed:

[2] shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly;

[3] not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

[4] And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

[5] Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

[6] Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,

[7] casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

(1 Peter 5:1-7 ESV)

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Week 15 | 1 Peter 4:12-19

[12] Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.

[13] But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

[14] If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

[15] But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.

[16] Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

[17] For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

[18] And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

[19] Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.

(1 Peter 4:12-19 ESV)

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Week 14 | 1 Peter 4:7-11

[7] The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.

[8] Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

[9] Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.

[10] As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:

[11] whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

(1 Peter 4:7-11 ESV)

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Week 13 | 1 Peter 4:1-6

[1] Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

[2] so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God.

[3] For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry.

[4] With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;

[5] but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

[6] For this is why the gospel was preached even to those who are dead, that though judged in the flesh the way people are, they might live in the spirit the way God does.

(1 Peter 4:1-6 ESV)

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1 Peter Memory Moleskine

Week 12 | 1 Peter 3:18-22

[18] For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,

[19] in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison,

[20] because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

[21] Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

[22] who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

(1 Peter 3:18-22 ESV)

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Week 11 | 1 Peter 3:13-17

[13] Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good?

[14] But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,

[15] but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,

[16] having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.

[17] For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.

(1 Peter 3:10-17 ESV)

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Week 10 | 1 Peter 3:7-12

[7] Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

[8] Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.

[9] Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.

[10] For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit;

[11] let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it.

[12] For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

(1 Peter 3:7-12 ESV)

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