Even the Creepy Dude Next Door?

“Who is my neighbor?”

It’s the question an “expert in the law” asked of Jesus in an attempt to justify some less than neighborly behavior.

Jesus answers with the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  (check out the story here)

I love this passage, as challenging as it remains.  I resonate with the call to care for those in need, to stop and recognize the folks around us, to sacrifice when others need what we have the ability to give.

Still, the story leaves me with a sense of coming alongside random strangers.  Helping folks we don’t really know, but who somehow cross our paths and enter into our worlds (or vice versa).

What if we answer this question more directly?

Maybe our neighbors are…our neighbors?  Like Sesame Street taught me; “The people that we meet while we’re walking down the street.  The people that we meet each day.”

In looking for the stranger (please don’t stop doing this), do we overlook the people who literally live right next door?  The folks on our street or in our apartment complex or whose dwellings are nearest to our own?

Today, I was sharing a demographic tool with my colleagues.  This tool is full of amazing info., but I wanted to highlight a specific feature of the software – household mapping.

Here’s the short of it…we can determine where the folks who attend church live on a map.  We can take that map and create a list of all the families in a specified area (say a street).

So what?

What if you found out there were several families on your street who attended your church?

What if you took that initial commonality and found others?

What if the connection you shared to a church became a connection you shared to a neighborhood?

What if you began to see your neighborhood as a place where you and others were called to be the church?

What if your neighbors became your neighbors…those we are called to love as we love ourselves?

Who knows whether this demographic tool will result in such connection?  Maybe we don’t need a list of our church-going neighbors?  Maybe we just need to pay attention to the folks we live closest too?  It couldn’t hurt, right?

Life is better together,
Shawn

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