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How good a neighbor are we?

Entering the Mission Field © D.P. Clarke
Entering the Mission Field © D.P. Clarke
Entering the Mission Field © D.P. Clarke

Part of the second commandment Lord Jesus gave His disciples was “love your neighbor.” In a world where relationships are carried on through messages punched into a keypad, what does being a good neighbor look like? It starts by getting out of ones comfort zone and into the community.

For instance, in small communities like Cocoa, Fla., it is easier to meet ones neighbors than in metropolitan cities. Here one can get to know the bachelor across the street, or the YA married couple who are living with their mother-in-law and also happen to attend their church. They can stop by to welcome the senior who just moved in with her two dogs to be near her elderly mother down the block. One can even befriend the tattooed guy with the Mohawk haircut who lives next door with his girlfriend.

In small communities one can build a relationship with others. They could stop by a neighbor’s yard sale. Even if one doesn’t want to purchase anything, it’s an excellent chance to chat. They can befriend the drugstore attendant where they go to process pictures on a regular basis. And can get to know the checkout lady at the grocery store by always going through her line. While shopping there several times a month, they could discover she’s a believer too. Then, when she is suddenly dismayed because ones purchase rings up a sinister $6.66, one can even offer a word of encouragement and blessing.

In this neck of the woods in Florida, being friendly may include attending a neighborhood block party where someone shot a pig, dug a pit in their front yard, and roasted it. It could involve bartering with the guy at the end of the street to mow ones lawn in exchange for using ones water to clean his boat, because there’s no faucet near his mancave. Or meeting a single mother raising her daughter two doors down, who gives away eggs laid by chickens she keeps in her back yard.

If one grew up up north and not in the south, life may take a bit of getting used to down here. However, challenging situations should never get in the way of being a good neighbor. After all, Jesus spent a lot of time with sinners.

At some point one may be able to gently inquire about their neighbor’s faith. If the answer is the deceptively popular “I have a personal understanding with God,” an invitation to attend church is made more easily when one has already established a relationship. However, caution should be exercised as to when and where to approach the subject. A believer should wait for the most opportune moment identified by the leading of God’s Spirit. Should the invitation be turned down, let it go, but continue being a good neighbor.

As an ad has said, “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” And Christians can be too, especially since all of the above scenarios are true.