Being a Good Neighbour

By Ryan Dawson

What does it mean to be a good neighbour?  God doesn't leave us guessing in this regard as Jesus clearly speaks to this, recorded in Luke Gospel:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ “
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbour?”  Luke 10:25-29

Jesus responds to this question by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan, a story that most of us know all too well.  This story has significant implications for us as we seek to Impact our neighbourhoods.  I want to share an excerpt from a very helpful workbook by Alan Roxburgh called Moving Back into the Neighbourhood.  

The command to enter one’s neighbourhood and love one’s neighbour calls us away from our rights to choose and invites us to take on obligation for the other who lives across the street.  In the increasingly pluralist and cosmopolitan nature of North America, the call to enter the neighborhood is a radical call to rediscover the Gospel in the other, rather than create churches that are comprised of people who are just like us.  The power of the Luke 10 story of the Good Samaritan is that it challenged the social and racial exclusivism that was being practiced.  When the lawyer asked Jesus the question of who is my neighbour, he expected the answer to be the Jewish people.  Jesus breaks this assumption and presents a radical call to cross strong, social boundaries.  

Today, most of our churches practice something like the assumptions of the lawyer. It may not be something that people would want to espouse or say they believe, but most church communities practice this way of life. They are comprised of people who are their own kind of people in terms of race, economics, socio-cultural values, etc.  Most Christians form their friends around these very narrow, confining definitions of relationship and belonging, so that it is very clear who is in and who is out.  Jesus makes it clear that those who follow him live by very different values and practices - they form their relationships by crossing boundaries to the other who is not immediately like them and may not believe the same ways as they do (Samaritans).  In the places where most North Americans live, we can begin to do this most effectively in our neighbourhoods.      Alan Roxburgh - Moving Back into the Neighbourhood 2010

I think this is helpful perspective and it provides a good challenge for us as followers of Christ as we work at engaging people in our neighbourhoods.  How can you cross the various boundaries in your neighbourhood as individuals and Impact Communities to reach out to people with the love of God?   What step is God asking you to take this summer?  

The summer season is a great time to connect and make new friends but it will take intentionality to see this become a reality.  Taking time to develop a "neighbourhood map" where you work on learning the names and stories of your neighbours, alongside prayer, and an invitation for connection, will help you develop relationships that can bear much fruit for the Kingdom.   As a church we long to see thousands of people experience the Kingdom of Jesus together, wherever we live, work, play, and go.   Jesus has given us life and love so that we can share this Good News with others where God has planted us.  Let's embrace our calling as a people to literally "love our neighbours" and then watch how God will show up.  

Blessings, Ryan