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Posts tagged ‘scripture’

Guest Post: “The Second is Like It”

Several Oak Cliff congregations are participating in BODY’s Fall Neighboring Initiative. Dr. Brent McDougal, pastor of Cliff Temple, has been preaching on the topic. This post is used with Brent’t permission from his column in Cliff Notes, Cliff Temple’s newsletter.]

We’re focusing the next several weeks on the call to love our neighbors and how to build genuine relationships with people right outside our doors. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, he responded by saying, “The greatest commandment is this: Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength. And the second greatest commandment is like it: love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:27; Mark 12:30) It’s like it because when your heart is truly filled with love for God and God’s love for you, you’re going to also love your neighbor; and when you love your neighbor, you’ll also be showing your love for God.

If everyone took this teaching on its face, and every day sought to practice these two things ‐ loving God with everything you have, and loving your actual neighbors ‐ then how would the world be different?

“Who is my neighbor?” That was the question that the lawyer asked Jesus before he told the story of the Good Samaritan. Often the teaching of that story is understood to be, “Everyone is my neighbor,” whether it’s my friend or the person on the side of the road. If someone is in need, they are my neighbor. So, that means the people across town, at the courthouse, even in a country far from home. Everybody’s my neighbor. But if we think we’re neighbors with everyone, we often end up being a neighbor to no one.

When Jesus told people to love their neighbor, he wasn’t speaking in the abstract. He was talking about the people nearest to you. Real people with real names ‐ those are your neighbors. And Jesus says in words that are completely clear: you’re called to love your neighbor as yourself.

So, for the next several weeks, get specific. (Remember the line from a few sermons ago. Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. In other words, nothing takes on life or has real meaning until it becomes a specific action.) In worship this past Sunday, we gave out refrigerator magnets to help you get to know the eight next neighbors nearest your home, on your block, or in your building. We asked the congregation to find out 1) the names of their neighbors, 2) one fact about them (job, interest, etc.), and 3) one “deeper” fact about them (a hope, a dream, a fear, etc.). This involves doing something specific to learn about your neighbors. Knock on their door and introduce yourself. Invite someone to share a meal. Try to be present when others are walking or working in the neighborhood, looking for ways to have a conversation. Don’t go after the hopes, dreams, and fears immediately; remember that those things are shared as a gift, and trust takes time to develop.

When you love your neighbor, you’ll be loving God; and when the love of the Father is truly in you, you’ll want to love your neighbors. I look forward to hearing your stories about connecting with your neighbors.

In Christ’s Love and Grace,

‐ Dr. Brent McDougal

God’s Design for Your Neighborhood

[A post by Catherine Peele, BODY’s new Director of Mobilization]

What is God’s design for your neighborhood?  If we are called to neighbor, what are we aiming for?  What should our communities look like?  Ultimately, the question is, “What is God’s design for our neighborhoods?”

One strong clue is found in Isaiah 65.17-25:

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth.  The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.  But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.  I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more.

Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed.

They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit.  No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.  They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.  The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food.  They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.

This city isn’t just experiencing the absence of things like isolation, material need, sickness, and injustice.  It’s a place where people live a vibrant and secure life. A place where they can Connect, Celebrate, and Create.

Connect – In a neighborhood functioning according to God’s design, people are closely connected both with one another, and with God.  The relationships among people is a source of joy (v. 19), and their relationship with God is also close as evidenced by free and open communication (v. 24).

Celebrate – Healthy neighborhoods celebrate residents’ skills, passions, and stories.  Understanding the unique gifts and background each person brings to the table allows neighbors to imagine ways their neighborhood can change for the better.

Create – Finally, the natural outflow of celebrating a community’s assets is the creation of good things within the neighborhood for the benefit of its people (v. 21).  Whether it’s something as informal as helping a neighbor with a small task, or as organized as starting a neighborhood club, people will use their skills and talents to address the needs of the community.

Neighborhoods thrive when they function according to God’s design to connect, celebrate, and create.  Next time, we’ll tackle the question of what would really happen if we took the first steps to connect with our neighbors.

Read “A Call to Neighboring” and check out practical neighboring resources here.