What Happens When Christians Love Their Neighbors?
On a cool Florida evening, while taking our puppy outside before bed, I greeted our neighbor Andreas walking his pup. Our dogs pulled towards each other like magnets, and we were soon engaged in a late-night chat in our front yard.
I had just finished watching an episode of “The Chosen” and I wanted to tell him about it, but I chickened out. It’s after ten, I reasoned; this can’t possibly be a good time for a deep conversation with a neighbor. I’m tired. He’s probably not interested in spiritual things. I assumed. Deep down, I knew I was making excuses. We finished our talk and I headed to bed.
The next day, I couldn't stop thinking I had missed an opportunity. What did I have to lose? He knows I'm a Christian. So I prayed, confessing my unwillingness to talk about Christ, and asked for boldness and another opportunity to connect with Andreas.
I didn't have to wait long. The following evening, at a different time, we ended up in the same spot. My puppy yanked me forward as if he knew the Holy Spirit was giving me a second chance.
We chatted a little before I finally said, "I meant to share with you last night about this show I've been watching. It is called ‘The Chosen’. It's a T.V. series about Jesus and the lives of his disciples, his closest friends."
"Interesting you mention that," he said, leaning down to give our puppy a belly rub. "I've wanted to read the Bible."
"Oh, cool," I fumbled. Andreas wanted to read the Bible. I wasn’t expecting that, I thought.
He continued unprompted, "I grew up religious, but I wouldn't consider myself religious anymore. But I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The thing that I can't get past is how well Christians love their neighbors."
The neighborly love all Christians in his life have for him, and for one another, is pivotal. If it’s lacking, Andreas could walk away from his faith. If he feels the love, it is the impetus to read about Jesus and rediscover its source.
After the new command that we must love one another in John 13: 34-35, Jesus says, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another."
Andreas’ openness left me speechless. Still scratching my puppy, he looked up at me and asked, "What do you think I should start with -- the Old or the New Testament?"
This guy was serious. The next day I dropped off a men's Bible that God had led me to buy months before, as well as a Gospel of John to get him started. A few weeks later, I found out he had been invited to a men's neighborhood Bible study and he shared he had read up to the story of Nicodemus.
God is the Lord of the abundant harvest. Jesus’ final command to us was that: We. Must. Love. One. Another. As we live wisely taking every opportunity, for the days are evil our love thwarts the schemes of the Enemy advancing in our communities.
One of my favorite quotes is from Brennan Manning who says, “In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.”
Every act of love you do is vital and life-altering to those around you. You may not see or hear about it yet, but keep loving anyway.
A neighbor Bible study is one of the greatest ways to love those around you because it multiplies your impact and demonstrates to others “we are Christians by our love.”
Want to love and reach your neighbors better but don’t know where to start? Join the NBS2GO team for the Let Your Light Shine digital event Tuesday, March 2nd 1:00-2:00pm est. Sign up here.