Christians Must Think about Why We Are Good Neighbors
Christians in the neighborhood make it a better place to live. We are kind, helpful, and moral. We are a living rebuke to racism, selfishness, and abuse. Our homes are safe places.
When I hear us talk about making our neighborhoods better, there are usually three reasons mentioned. I think they are all legitimate, but I also think that none of them is sufficient in and of itself.
So here are the reasons we make good neighbors and why we need to remember every one of these.
We are good neighbors because, well, we are good people. Jesus does make us better. We become more and more like him every day. The old is gone, and we are made new. So it does become more and more of our identity to be good people in an evil world. However, ironically, the better we become in Christ, the easier it is to lose focus on why we are good. We are good because of Jesus. It is not our behavior or character; it’s the behavior and character of a life lived in Jesus that makes us good. We cannot forget that. Do not lose focus.
We are good neighbors because Jesus told us to be. The Good Samaritan in our own world. We must be good neighbors if we are to follow the second greatest command: love our neighbor as ourselves. But if following a command becomes the primary motivation, it is too easy to see our behavior as what we must do, not as what we desire to do. And in the process we sometimes lose sight of the very people we are to love and serve. Our neighbors are the people for whom Jesus died, and he does tell us to love them. So see them. Know them. See them as Christ does, not as the world does.
We are good neighbors because we want the opportunity to tell them that Jesus died for their sins. How we live among our neighbors, and how we serve them, gives us the credibility to speak to them about Jesus. But our neighbors are not just objects to be converted. We serve them whether they ever allow us to share good news with them. Because of Jesus. Yet we must share our faith. God places us in neighborhoods where people do not know him. If we merely serve and model the Christian life but never speak about Jesus, have we really been good neighbors? How cruel to live among the lost and not share the opportunity to be saved.
So love your neighbor because you are like Jesus. Love them because he told you to love them as yourself. And speak for Jesus because it just may be that the Holy Spirit is connecting you to those who are searching for life.
Be a good neighbor.