It was an early Saturday morning when I heard the screaming outside my house followed by a loud bang. I immediately thought it was a gun shot but was not yet fully awake. As I came to my senses I knew that it didn’t quite make the right sound as a gun firing. I laid frozen in my bed filled with fear for a minute, the Pastor I call Husband was out-of-town and I didn’t know what to do. The ruckus outside my driveway woke up one of my daughters and she began to cry. I grabbed her and peeked out the window and saw two of my neighbours outside protecting our street – one with a metal bar chasing a car as it sped off.
A vehicle loaded with young adults had pulled up outside our house and walked to a neighbouring house, smashed their letter box while yelling offensive words at the owner of the house. There was obviously conflict between the car load of people and one of my neighbours due to matters that I won’t write about for the sake of privacy.
The weekend saw unrest and fear for my family which then turned to anger because I didn’t want ‘this type of behaviour’ in my street – such a middle class snobby approach that I rebuked myself later for. I spoke directly, even unkindly to the owner of the house that was involved in the altercation telling him “I needed my children to be safe.” As the days passed, I turned from wanting to call the police to wanting to love the guy and invite him into my home.
The Pastor I call Husband and I discussed the best approach and the truth is, being judgemental, rude and unkind would only create conflict and a gap, so we went for plan B. When you see the unlovely in your life, one needs to make a decision, a choice, to love them anyway.
Weeks passed, and during that time small conversations took place between my husband, myself and the neighbour. We were only new to the area so we were starting from ground zero with him. A particular afternoon saw an opportunity to show Gods heart. “Hi ya Mate” said the Pastor, “I was wondering if you and your brother wanted to come in for dinner one night?” This young guy responded was eagerness to my surprise. He told us that he “lives on take out pizza” and held a bottle of liquor up to show the other half of his staple diet. Something inside of me cracked. Here we are wanting to reach the world with the love of Jesus, yet we’re not looking at our own neighbour. I walked straight inside, made him some soup and reached out.
Isn’t loving the world starting with the person right next to you-not with the multitudes?
A loving relationship takes time and effort and is laced with choice.
I’ve participated in many meetings coming up with strategies, programs, choosing songs and spending hours of my time trying to reach people like the ones who happen to live next door. It doesn’t take a band on a platform in a ‘church’ to bring the desired conversations or questions – No, its me making a meal, inviting the neighbours children into my home, lingering in conversation, making time and choosing to see the needs of others who happen to share the same path as me.
You choosing to see the needs of those who share the same path as you.
Those who work in your local café, who ride in the same train carriage or bus to work each day, who sit near you in your lectures or attend your mothers group. We are creatures of habit so rest assure you’ll see the same familiar faces in the same places each day.
Jesus is the absolute example of knowing how to express love with authenticity while building friendship and trust. We see it countless times in the scriptures. Jesus leans in demonstrates patience and grace while journeying alongside a mate shaping their story into something greater.
Learn my friends from this radical God who desires nothing more than relationship. You must ignite a fire within your heart to love those who you personally deem ‘hard to love’, who share different values to you and behave differently to the company you typically surround yourself with.
Love is a sacrifice, we saw that at Calvary. The God who died for you, is the same God who died for your neighbour, but it just might be you who needs to slow down, step up and be the link in the chain for Jesus.