This past January, my wife Alexis and I purchased our first home. Nestled in an older neighborhood in west Wichita, the house sits on a half-acre, has mature trees to provide shade from the evening sun, and is from the 1960’s. One of the best parts of our home though? Our neighbors. In the days and weeks following our move, we were able to meet most of the surrounding neighbors and begin building friendships with them. There’s the retired couple who has 900 acres of wheat in west Kansas, the couple who offered me the use of their tools when they saw that I had little, and the middle-aged man who has just undergone knee replacement surgery. While the home is nice and comfortable (a testament to my wife more than anything) what has really made it special is the opportunity to connect with our neighbors.
When Jesus is asked about the greatest commandment, He quotes Deuteronomy 6 as the most important. But then he says this,
“The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:31 ESV).
You don’t need to be a theologian to dissect and apply this passage to your life. While the story of the Good Samaritan shows us that our neighbors are more than the families in the houses around ours, Jesus’ words call us to relationships- first with our heavenly Father and then with our neighbors. In the summer season of midweek games, 100 degree weather that forces many to retreat indoors, and garage doors that allow us to be in our homes before we even are out of the car, it can be easy to ignore or neglect our neighbors. And yet, that’s not how we’re called to live. As people who have been called out, people who have been saved by grace through faith, we don’t follow the patterns and traditions of this world. Changed by the love of God, we now have the opportunity to share that love with others- and that includes our literal neighbors.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35).
How can you love your neighbor well? There’s a lot of ways that you can but two things that you can start with now: pray for them and be intentional about getting to know them.
One of the things that I am most looking forward to this summer is Riverlawn’s Summer Block Party. Taking place Saturday, July 16th from 4-10pm, the Block Party is a great way that we can love our neighbors well. We’ll have games, food, a family friendly movie, and more. We want this party to be an opportunity to build relationships with the community around Riverlawn as well as an opportunity for you to extend an invite to your neighbors to begin building and cultivating relationships with them. So grab an invite card (or 5) this Sunday, take the long walk down the driveway, and invite your neighbors to the best party this year.