This is the first in a three part series that uses 1 Peter 3:15 to answer the question, “HOW do I love my neighbor without being weird?” Follow on the blog, Instagram and Facebook.

I’ll never forget the day I happened to look out the window as I was reading one of those Bible passages about loving our neighbor.

Whew! I was glad I had that covered! I was in love with Jesus and working hard for the church. My husband and I were attending ministry school. We even supported a child in Africa whose picture hung on our refrigerator! 

But that morning I asked my dog if maybe Jesus meant I was supposed to love my actual neighbors? You know, the ones she barked at every day? She didn’t answer…

…but I remembered something I had learned in ministry school about the Vulgate, which is a Latin translation of the Bible. It used the word proximus for neighbor. It means “that which is NEAREST, next, or adjoining” and is the root word for proximity and approach.

I, on the other hand, had globalized the definition of neighbor to include everyone in the whole wide world, conveniently excluding the people who live right next door.

It was a lot easier to send a check to a stranger in Africa than walk across the street to chat with a neighbor.

Can I get an amen?

I was so enthralled with the first and greatest command of loving Jesus that I had barely peeked out the picture window to notice the people who lived around me—let alone love them.

Sometimes I would say hello to someone walking by, or wave before my garage door quickly closed behind me. Once I thought I recognized a neighbor at Walmart—but I couldn’t be sure.

Ours was a keep-to-yourself kind of community. We didn’t have a corner store or coffee shop, and my daughter didn’t wait for the school bus with a group of children. We stayed in our back yards behind our privacy fences—and we liked it that way.

Do you know your neighbors?

So I had a wonderful idea: I would invite my neighbors to a Bible study in my home!

But the longer I thought about this great idea, the worse it seemed.

I was really busy. HOW would I find the time?

And if that really was my neighbor at Walmart she probably saw that I was rude to the cashier who put my onions on top of my bread. HOW would I prove I was good enough?

What if we had nothing in common? HOW would I relate to people different from me?

What if no one came? HOW would I get over the embarrassment?

What if everyone came? HOW would I feed them all?

What if my holy dog sniffed people in unholy places? They’d see my dirty laundry, literally and figuratively—and my messy house. HOW would I ever get ready?

What if they asked me a question I couldn’t answer? HOW would I respond?

Then I convinced myself that my neighbors didn’t want to talk about spiritual things, which I could somehow tell just by looking at their houses. HOW would I start that conversation?

I had every excuse in the book, and a few I’m sure the Lord had never heard before. But I couldn’t find an exception clause in the second-greatest commandment to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR (trust me, I looked hard). There it was, in black and white and even red letters over and over in my Bible, and it wasn’t going away.

When I asked, “HOW?” God only answered, “NOW!”

Is there anything God is asking you to do today that you’re resisting?

It felt like our new decade woke up on the wrong side of the bed. 2020 was bad enough, but just a few days into 2021 we realized that yesterday’s pandemic, protests, and politics will be replaced by new problems tomorrow. What’s next? An alien invasion?

In the middle of a global pandemic, in the midst of national chaos and worldwide social unrest, we still find ourselves in our own mess. Drama and trauma in our own homes drown out today’s headlines.

People are looking for answers, they are searching for relief. The phrase “How to pray” is trending on Google and Bible sales are skyrocketing.

This isn’t a new question during our “new normal”. This hunger for HOPE has been happening since the beginning of time.

HOPE is what our neighbors need today more than ever.

“How do I find HOPE?”
“Where do I go to get HOPE?”
“Could I borrow a cup of HOPE?” 

In the apostle Peter’s letter to the very earliest followers of Christ 2,000 years ago, Peter wrote ONE single verse that tells us everything we need to know about HOW to love our neighbors.

Are you ready to share some hope?
If you need to borrow my hope, DM me. Let’s talk.

This is the first in a three part series that uses 1 Peter 3:15 to answer the question, “HOW do I love my neighbor without being weird?” Follow on the blog, Instagram and Facebook.

"I want to love God and love my neighbor,
but I don't know how."

 

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