Remember the good old days when you were a kid and you could just walk over to a friend’s house and ask if they could play? When I entered adult life, got my own place, and eventually got married, I found that my friends lived farther and farther away. I had to schedule time to even hang out with them. As time went on I’d have to schedule that time farther and farther out. I don’t know about you, but I miss those days where I could just walk next door to find my friends.
Well, why don’t we? We are called by Jesus to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39), so why aren’t we friends with more of our neighbors?
Recently, I helped my neighbors move. These weren’t your average neighbors. We actually had that “knock on the door” style of relationship. My son would literally run to their door, ring their bell, and run inside as soon as the door opened. I’d come home to find both their front door and our front door wide open, and we’d just go back and forth between our apartments as if they were one giant living room.
This relationship wasn’t normal for me. As an adult, I’m more used to the smile-and-wave, small talk style of relationship with my neighbors. So, what made this time different? What made me love these neighbors and become their friends? Quite simply, it was my wife.
I’m always polite and always friendly, but I don’t normally share personal details of my life with people, including neighbors, I hardly know. My wife, on the other hand, wears her heart on her sleeve. She also makes amazing brownies that she just has to share with people. When your neighbors are med students with no time to cook, bringing them random baked goods is an excellent way of gaining their friendship.
My wife talked to them every time she saw them. She got to know them so well that she knew when they were about to have exams, knew when they were studying, and knew when they were so busy they needed to be reminded to eat. She didn’t just make small talk with them about their lives; she became an actual part of their lives.
As Christians, we often talk about being good witnesses and sharing the love of Jesus, but how often is that talk just talk? Or how often is it superficial? We say, “Jesus loves you,” but we don’t usually get to know people well enough to show them love in a way they actually receive it.
Jesus didn’t just preach to people. He went to their homes, sat down at their tables, talked and ate with them. He got involved in their lives and fellowshipped with them. We should do the same! We should open ourselves to our neighbors, invite them into our homes and lives, and get to know them. How else will we know the best way to love them?
Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). And what did He say were the most important commandments?
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
Christians often get a bad rap for being judgmental. There are those of us who spend a great deal of time pointing out all the commandments other people are breaking. But what about us? If we aren’t loving our neighbors, we’re breaking the second most important commandment Jesus gave us!
So, brother, knock on a door, talk to your neighbors, or bake them some brownies. Do something that opens a door into their lives and lets you share your life with them. Be the neighbor you wish you had, and I’m sure you’ll find that your friends live closer than you ever realized.
And give your wife a break when she gets chatty with the neighbors. She just may be opening the door to a friendship you’ll never forget.
Family Radio Staff