This fall, I’m inviting everyone at Shalom to join me in working through the book “The Art of Neighboring” by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon.
“The Art of Neighboring” asks the question: “What would happen in every follower of Jesus took the Great Commandment literally? Jesus said, in Matthew 22:37-39, that the greatest commandments are:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
When Jesus told his followers that they should love God and love their neighbors, he meant it. There was no room for excuses, even though we like to try to make excuses for our actions (or inaction). We often forget that if we don’t love our neighbors, if we don’t show others the love that God has for all of God’s children, then we aren’t any different from folks who aren’t Christian. The challenge that this book offers to us is to envision a community where we actually love our neighbors – like we love ourselves, and like Jesus loves us all.
Here’s a video that summarizes what it is all about:
Let’s be honest for a minute.
Loving our neighbors is hard work. For starters, we actually have to know them. Sure, we can love our neighbors without ever having met them, but is that enough? Second, it is hard because we have to take time out of our busy schedules and share it with someone else. Third, it is hard because we are often afraid. When you don’t know someone, and don’t take the time to get to know them, fear sets in. And that fear keeps us from building real, honest relationships with our neighbors.
What is “Neighboring”?
Neighboring is just what is seems – being a neighbor. It is something that we do when we seek out opportunities to love our literal neighbors, just as we have been commanded to do by Jesus. Neighboring invites us to begin a journey of forming new relationships with those who live around us. And then it invited us to share our lives with others. Not so they come to church (even though that would be great!). But so that people in our communities would know they are loved – by us and by God.
What would it look like?
What would your community, neighborhood, or street look like if you took the risk to get outside and meet your neighbors? What would it look like if you invited them into a genuine relationship? What would it cost you to take the first step: to deliver some homemade baked goods, invite someone over for dinner, throw a block party or barbecue or ice cream social. What would you gain by knowing your neighbors in a meaningful way?
I invite you to join me on this journey over the next few weeks and months, as we reach out to those around us, seek to be good neighbors, and follow the most important commandment that Jesus gave to us: Love God and love neighbor.
Grace and peace,
If you want more information about this study and how it might work in our community, talk to Pastor Peter.
If you are interested in other resources, check them out here.