How to Love Your Neighbor as Yourself: Part 2
Last week I wrote about the importance of loving our neighbors as ourselves, because God asks us eight times in scripture to “Love Our Neighbors”. I have learned whenever God talks in stereo, or better yet 7.1 surround sound, I’d better perk up my ears and listen. I promised to give you some fun creative ideas to get to know your neighbors who live close to you.
Here are some ideas we have used in the past to get to know our neighbors, that once again we will be doing this spring and summer. Why? A number of our neighbors moved away last year. We live in an area where many people work on government contracts, are in the military or just in a transient phase of life, and it is time to build new relationships once again.
Host an Ice Cream Sundae Night: Make some fliers and invite six of your neighbors into your home for an ice cream sundae. Tell them you will supply the ice-cream and drinks and they can bring their favorite toppings. It provides an opportunity to get to know your neighbors and for them to get to know you in a non-threatening way. Who doesn’t love ice cream? In our living room we have a shelf my daughter purchased for me which says, “Be Still and Know That I Am God”. Other pieces of wall art have scripture references on them. Something as simple as a picture or shelf can bring up a conversation about God.
Have a Block Party: We did this last year and it was a great success. We supplied the hotdogs and watermelon and everyone else brought a dish to pass. We held it on a Saturday evening and everyone had a great time. We had simple games for the kids and the adults loved playing cornhole. This was a great opportunity for our neighbors to meet one another and to make some new friends.
Neighborhood Rummage Sale: We invited everyone who wanted to participate to give $5.00 for signs and advertising. Who doesn’t like to get rid of stuff they aren’t using and make some money in the process? This was another great way to get people involved in the neighborhood. Some people who didn’t attend the other events participated in the sale, and once again I got to know some new neighbors.
Start a Walk/Run Club: I will never be a runner, but I can walk, and who doesn’t need exercise? Make a flier and tell them the day/days of the week and where the meeting place is and how long the walk will be. It is also a great way for moms to get some exercise and have some adult conversation.
Welcome New Neighbors: Generally, we all know when new neighbors move in. Walk over and say hello! However, don’t try to have a one hour conversation with them unless you plan on helping them move boxes into their new home. Not that there’s anything wrong with that at all. There is nothing worse than moving to a new place with all new people and feeling overwhelmed by it all.
These are just a few ideas, but these ideas also provided opportunities to ask our neighbors if they attended church and if they didn’t attend we just simply said to them if they were looking for a church we’d love for them to check ours out. We didn’t push, but we prayed. We still pray. Do you pray for your neighbors? Our mission field is in many places, including our neighborhood. I do prayer walks in our neighborhood, praying for each family as I pass by. I don’t know all their needs, but God does. My heart’s desire is my neighbors see Jesus in me and desire to want to know more about Him.
Being a good neighbor is more than being nice, it is making yourself available to help those in need. Our faith is just as important to demonstrate as it is to share verbally.
James 2:14-26 states, What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”
Remember the quote, “Actions speak louder than words?” This still holds true. Demonstrating our faith shows how important it is to us. I want to be the kind of neighbor Jesus was to everyone. When God places someone in my path, whether it is someone in my neighborhood or elsewhere, I want to follow His example. Kindness breeds kindness. Opening our hearts to help others is being a good neighbor. Isn’t that what a good neighbor should do?