It’s been a rough morning for the news.
The top three stories in our rural corner of West Tennessee included the school shooting in Florida, a riot and fight that broke out on a cruise ship and a local gun store that was robbed over the weekend.
Not a banner news day for human behavior, for sure.
I’m not trying to get political here. I don’t want to use this blog to promote any big, national agenda.
But I do think that I have a reminder that might help all of us. It’s three simple words.
Love your neighbor.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. John 15:12
We live in an interesting time. As a country, we are becoming more isolated.
A recent New York Times article told that since the 1980’s, the number of adults that report being lonely had doubled…from 20 to 40%. Another recent study showed that nearly 1/3 of Americans did not know their neighbors on their street or in their apartment building. There have been several studies about declining church memberships across our country.
We’re ordering groceries online and shopping alone on Amazon at midnight. These technology advances aren’t bad things in themselves…but they have impacted the way that we communicate with one another- and have seriously diminished our country’s opportunities for face-to-face interaction.
We just don’t know our neighbors anymore. And in my opinion- that’s a problem.
You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18
Isolation can bring fear. It can also make it much easier to make generalizations and value judgements on a particular group of people. Instead, we need to engage. Christianity is a contact sport. We need to get to know our neighbors. Not just those people who live around you, but those people in your office or at church. Those people you walk by each day at work, in the coffee shop or at the gym.
Get to know their likes, their pain and their hopes and fears. Share your thoughts with them.
Host a dinner party. Invite someone for a walk or a hike. Start a book club…or a once-a-week prayer session over lunch. Rake your neighbor’s leaves.
Be vulnerable. Be transparent. Be yourself. Who knows? You may find that you may have more in common with your neighbors than you think.
It’s awfully hard to hate those that you know.
And you might even change the next series of news headlines. One person at a time.
My prayer today is to look for ways to engage my neighbors. One cup of coffee and one act of kindness at a time.
Please let me know how I may pray for you.