The powerful idea of loving our neighbours

The powerful idea of loving our neighbours

Source: MEI Head of Schools Blog

World news has been extremely discouraging and filled with hopelessness. Would you agree?

Consider the following categories of troubling recent events: mass shootings, sexual harassment, natural disasters, nuclear threats, political instability, economic instability, racial tensions…

Do the troubles in the world seem insurmountable?
  • Are you & I able to solve the many political problems around the world?
  • Are you & I able to solve the sexual harassment concerns coming to light in North America?
  • Are we able to solve gun violence?
  • What can be done to solve homelessness & poverty?
  • How do we even process the nuclear armed countries that are threatening each other?
  • Can we address the rise of anxiety and depression among our youth?
  • What about the extremely high volume of deaths related to opioid (2800 Canadian lives in 2016, more than 3000 deaths predicted for 2017)?
What if we all made the four or five neighbours living directly around us one of the highest priorities in life by knowing their names & living life together. Too simple?

There are entire TV series built on the concept that we all have a need to be in a place ‘where everybody knows your name’ (Cheers). Consider the two scenarios below:

Scenario 1
What would happen if every family took on the responsibility of caring deeply for the 4 or 5 homes near them. Imagine the aerial map of our cities which would show the rows of houses and coloured in sections where families were living life together, praying for each other, raising children together, joining together to help the food bank, and supporting each other in times of need. In the long run, would our world change for the better?

Scenario 2
What would happen if we all came home from the really ‘important things’ in our lives, parked in our garages, never spoke to anyone living near us, watched TV, and then went to do the ‘important things’ again the next day (repeat for the rest of your life)? In the long run, would our world change for the better? Perhaps we, as a society, have already tried this method.

I believe in the power of the concept of the neighbourhood priority because of three sources: 1) Jesus, 2) My parents, 3) My wife.

Jesus was given a very difficult and challenging question by an expert in the law: Which is the greatest commandment? His response: First, love God with everything you have and everything you are and Second, love your neighbour in the same manner that you love yourself. How? By putting them first in the same way that we put ourselves first and by seeing the world as revolving around them instead of just revolving around our own realities. Powerful! (Read Mark 12)

vmomMy parents have lived this type of life out in front of me and my siblings. We had an open house for their friends and neighbours. People were regularly invited into our house for a delicious home-cooked meal. If anyone stopped by, they could expect to be offered refreshments. Of course this transferred to my friends as they loved coming to my house for Mom’s hospitality including her delicious food. As a result, Mom & Pops have healthy relationships with their neighbours and the friendships established there remain to this day. Just this past weekend our little family stopped by for a visit and my mom jumped to her feet (at 77 years old) and made a delicious meal for all six of us. I’m willing to guarantee that if you came for a drive with me to visit Mom & Pops you’ll be offered fresh rhotis with some really good & hot tea accompanied by a life-giving conversation centered on the Word of God. :)

My wife is amazing. She knows our neighbours, invites them into our home, loves the children that live around us, cares for those going through troubled times in our community through her connection to a Community Services outreach called Best for Babies, hosts neighbours and friends for Piefest at Thanksgiving & Paskafest at Easter, and has invited in folks to our Christmas Day family time because they are going solo through the Christmas Season. The list actually goes on and on.

I’m convinced that if we all love and care for our literal neighbours as a top priority, our whole world would be different… better… amazing!

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What if everything moved to second behind our love and passion for God.
What if intentional love, time, creativity, and passion for those living around us moved into a solid second on our list of life priorities.
Next, what if everything else moved in below those two?

Folks, this is God’s call to each of us. It’s likely not about having a certain skill set or gifting, but rather more about obedience. Of course, this is not just about our literal neighbours but extends to everyone in need around us (Luke 10:25-37). In 1 Peter 4, we are encouraged to be aware of the final destination for the things of this world and our response ought to include alertness, prayer, love, hospitality, service, and proclaiming God’s Word (1 Peter 4:7-11).

As we enter the Christmas season, here are a few ideas we could all try. :)

Challenge Level 1
Bake some cookies and deliver them as a family to the four or five neighbours living next to you. Include a Christmas card! Pray for each family by name while baking, during delivery, and throughout the next month and then see what God will do!

Challenge Level 2
Get outside as a family and sing a few carols for the neighbours. Pray for each family by name while walking between houses and throughout the next month and then see what God will do!
(Note: Levels 2 and 3 can be swapped depending on your comfort level with singing.)

Challenge Level 3
If you are comfortable to try this, invite your known and trusted neighbours in for a coffee, hot chocolate, goodies, and a visit. Pray for each family by name before they come and throughout the next month and then see what God will do!
(Note: Levels 2 & 3 can be swapped depending on your comfort level with singing.)

Thanks for reading. Please add your ideas here. May God bless you!

Vijay Manuel
MEI Head of Schools
@headofschools