Thursday, March 11, 2010
Who is My Neighbor?
"Who Is My Neighbor?" is the question that a Jewish scholar asked Jesus. The question was in response to Jesus lifting up the commandment to Lover your neighbor as yourself. The scholar wanted to know who he had to love, whether there were people he didn't have to love. Today the question has a second meaning. Who is your neighbor? Have you met them? Would you recognize them in the store if you saw them? What are there names? What do they like to do for fun? Where do they work? How many families around you can you answer these questions for? My guess is that if you have lived in your home for more than 15 years, you can answer a lot of them. On the other hand, some of you may only know one or two families that well.
Somewhere in the last 40 years our culture turned inward. Front porches got smaller and smaller and backyards got bigger and bigger. Small chain link fences turned into 8' tall privacy fences. We know infinitely more about the characters on our favorite TV shows than we do about our closest neighbors. For many my age, the computer which was supposed to be a time saving device, has become a ball and chain. It has become our primary link to connect with others through programs like Facebook and Twitter. The age of neighbors and
neighborhoods has been relegated to re-runs of the Andy Griffith Show and Leave It To Beaver. I think people are craving face to face interactions but don't know a safe place to find them.
The real travesty is that the church has done the same thing. As members of our church have one by one moved away from the community our connection with the neighborhood right around the church has evaporated into thin air. Who are the church's neighbors? Are they old or young? Are they white collar or working class? Do they have kids? Where do they spend their free time? What do they worry about? What are their life goals? All of these questions and many more face our church like a giant white elephant.
We want to have more people come to our church, but we don't even know
who they are. Over the next few months our goal as a church will be to investigate, integrate, and relate to the neighborhood within a mile radius of the church. This Sunday after church take the long way home. Just drive around and take a look at the homes, the cars, the bicycles, and the people. Ask yourself, "Who are they?" Lift up a prayer for God's guidance as you open your eyes and really look around. Soon maybe we'll be able to come together and really answer the question, "Who is my neighbor?"