Saturday, October 22, 2011

31 Days of Good News - Neighbors

Do you ever feel God actually change your heart towards something? I mean, you start off feeling a certain way and then God uses His Spirit dwelling within and His holy Word to change how you feel?

That has happened to me in regards to our neighbors. I grew up in a home where there was a lot of drama (to say the least). One thing I learned very early in life was to be leery of the neighbors. They are usually nosey, gossips, opinionated, and want nothing more than to judge our family.
So now that I am grown, I have lived in three different locations (two houses and one apartment) and I have never been friendly with my neighbors. Well, we currently have one set that we talk to when we are in the yard, but we are not “friends”.
In reading the book ‘Radical’ and with the study that has happened to write this 31 Days of Good News blog series…God has changed my heart towards my neighbors.  Just look how many times this phrase “love your neighbor” appears in the Bible, starting all the way back in Leviticus.

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18
Let none of you think evil in your heart against your neighbor; And do not love a false oath. For all these are things that I hate,’ Says the LORD.” Zechariah 8:17

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, Matthew 5:43-44
‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” Matthew 19:19

Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31

So he answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27

For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not bear false witness,” “You shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9

For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

So I have decided, with a not-so-gentle nudge to pray for our neighbors. Sounds easy enough, right? However, in reading and writing so much about spreading the Good News, I would also love an opportunity to share the gospel. So here is what God has put on my heart.

I am going to let my neighbors know that we are praying for them. Last night I was torn between going door to door and actually talk with them (we do not live in a neighborhood, but on a pretty busy street which makes it logistically more difficult – but still) or just send them something in the mail.

This morning, while lying in bed (usually when the Holy Spirit takes gives me a lot of prompting) I felt like going door to door would be the best option and to hand deliver the letter.  Saves postage, right? This will actually give me the opportunity to meet them in person (if they are home), be an example to our daughter (who I will take with me) and give them a letter that tells a little about our family and that we are going to start to pray for them. Maybe I'll even take them some cookies to sweeten the deal.

We will pray for their families in a general way at first unless they tell us of a specific need (which I am hoping they will share).

In our small group discussion last night, we talked about what it would look like if we were missionaries living in another country. Picture it with me. Your “occupation” would be missionary. You would look and act differently than others in the area that you are living. Because you would be so different, the locals would be curious. They would learn they could come to you when they need help, prayer and even to hear about the Bible and its power.

We are missionaries in our own neighborhoods. We need to look and act so differently from “the world” that our neighbors know we are different – and spark their curiosity.  There are hurting people all around us. Do they know they can come to you for help, prayer and to hear about the Bible and its power? We worry too much about what others think. We need to worry about what God thinks.

Speaking of the people named in the “Hall of Faith” in the book of Hebrews, the author describes them as strangers and pilgrims on the Earth. As Christians, we are all pilgrims on the Earth. Our home is in heaven. Therefore, we should not worry if we “fit in” with the world. We should worry more if we do fit in when Christ as called us to be different.

These all died in faith, not having received the promises,
but having seen them afar off were assured of them,
embraced them and confessed that
they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
Hebrews 11:13
Do not love the world or the things in the world.
If anyone loves the world,
the love of the Father is not in him.
1 John 2:15

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