THE HARDEST COMMAND IN THE BIBLE is “Love your enemy.” Another tough one is “Love your neighbor.” But what happens if your enemy and your neighbor are one and the same?
In the state where I’m from, there was no shortage of bad neighbors; I used to be one of them. But before I was a bad neighbor, I was a bad son which got me kicked out of my home at nineteen. On my own, nobody mattered but me: my place, my comfort, my peace. One night I threw all the patio furniture into the swimming pool after the apartment manager told me to get rid of my waterbed (which wasn’t allowed in the first place). My next-door neighbor ratted me out, so I bent all her BBQ utensils into U-shapes. No one ever figured it was me, but surely, they suspected. Instead of getting rid of the waterbed, by the way, I hooked a garden hose to my kitchen faucet, turned it on, and let the water “drain” out my bedroom window onto the driveway below for eight hours. I still slept soundly that night.
Another neighbor accidentally parked in my appointed space, so I took the Subway sandwich sitting on his passenger seat…and ate it. Still another parked in the verboten zone reserved for my vehicle, so I put Vaseline under his door handles AND on his front windshield. He figured out who it was though and knocked very loudly on my door. When I opened it, POW! Right in the kisser.
Having no concept of neighborliness and not caring if anyone was my neighbor, my sentiments were the same as Leonardo DiCaprio on the bow of Titanic shortly before disaster struck: “I’m the king of the world!”
Dostoevsky said, “I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.”
The Beatles’ summed up my life perfectly:
“All through’ the day
I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.
All through’ the night
I me mine, I me mine, I me mine.”
Years later I became a born-again follower of Jesus Christ and my perspective changed, learning that the second greatest Commandment according to Jesus was to “love my neighbor as myself.” This comes after the Greatest Commandment which is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:31-32) In other words, to love God IS to love our neighbor with as much love and time and effort as we love our own persons.
The first four of the Ten Commandments are directed on how we are to love God; the next six, how we are to love our neighbor. But it’s so much simpler than that! Everything written in the Bible is summed up with these words from our Savior: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12)
I’m learning to do that more and more. In fact, I’m selling my property in the country to live in town so that I can love on my neighbors more effectively for Christ’s sake. But who is my neighbor? Who is your neighbor? How can we love on our neighbors if we don’t know who they are or what they need? I’ve got a solution:
We are having our first Johnson City Community Potluck on June 15, from 4PM to ^PM at the LBJ High School. Why Should You Come? Because connection is protection! When was the last time you sat out on your front porch and spoke with your neighbors as they took a stroll past your house? Heck, many homes today don’t even have a porch! What if you noticed that your neighbor hasn’t been cutting his grass or taking in his trash can? “What a slug,” you say! What if you knew that your neighbor Joe was the primary care giver to his mother with Alzheimer’s Disease? Instead of grumbling about his yard, might you be more inclined to help with the grass or his trash can or even ask if he needed something from the store? If you knew him, had a connection with him, yes, you probably would. So, come and meet your neighbor to establish or renew a connection!
- Bring a potluck dish to share (please come, even if you don’t have an item to share)
- Bring a folding chair in case we run out of room inside
- Paper plates, water, plastic ware, napkins provided
- Bring a smile and a happy heart – meet new neighbors – reconnect with those you haven’t seen lately!