Welcome to Day 13 of our #GodlyAdventure! Do you tend to shy away from getting to know your neighbors? Jill Douglas is sharing some helpful tips to make it easier to connect with them.
All too often, we don’t know the people who live near us. People drive in their garages at night, close the door behind them, walk back to the car in the morning, and drive away again. Do we even know our neighbors’ names?
So when Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, often we honestly are left wondering, “who is my neighbor?” Because, more often than not, we really have no idea who they are.
As humans, we crave community. As Christians, we’re meant to foster community.
So how do we do that?As humans, we crave community. As Christians, we are meant to foster community.
Pray For Your Neighbors
We all need more exercise, right? And we all need to pray more.
So walk through your neighborhood, taking a moment to pray for the people who live in every house you pass. Pray for your neighbors by name, by their kids’ names, pray for problems they may have and rejoice along with them in their successes.
But you don’t know your neighbors’ names? No problem. God does.
Father God knows what they need. God knows who they are.
And the more we pray for our neighbors, the more we’ll want to know who they are, too.
The family next door to my parents has three kids. As the street is fairly quiet, they encourage the kids to ride their bikes on the street. They put a basketball hoop in the cul-du-sac, and their kids actually use it. They have a porch, with a swing and chairs. Even the adults sit in that swing on summer evenings.
I don’t know most of my parents’ neighbors. However, I do know this family. Thanks to the simple fact that they’re outside, we greet them at least once a day. My kids are encouraged by their kids to play outside.
If I were to ever need help while visiting my parents, I know I could count on these neighbors. They’re visible, and they’re available.
As simple as that is, it’s a pretty huge lesson. No one will get to know me in my neighborhood unless I’m visible. No one will come over to talk or get to know me, unless they know I’m available.
Around Christian social circles, it seems we’re paying attention to the need to be hospitable. Hospitality can begin in our yards. Going up to someone’s door and knocking on it is rather intimate and intimidating.
Greeting people from your yard–that’s easy! And it’s a great first step.Hospitality can begin in our yards.
Get to Know Your Neighbors: Introduce Yourself!
So you’re walking around your neighborhood, praying for your neighbors, and you realize you don’t know who lives in the house four houses down?
Go over there and introduce yourself!
Didn’t I just say earlier that knocking on someone’s door is intimate and intimidating? It is! But that’s no excuse not to make an effort to get to know our neighbors.
Maybe they’ll be less than thrilled to meet you. Maybe they won’t even answer the door.
But maybe the person who answers will be lonely. They may be thrilled to meet you. Or at least glad to know another neighbor by name.
We’ll never know unless we make the effort.
Become an Organizer
Once we know who our neighbors are, how often do we interact with them? Do you feel like you always hear, “Gee–we should get together sometime?”
Do it. Organize it. That’s the only way to make it happen.
Have you ever wanted to have a block party? A neighborhood play date for little kids? Have you ever wanted to sit over a cup of coffee with the little, old lady down the street?
Invite them. We all love to be included. We love people who are curious about us. The truth is, we can talk all we want about how it would be a great idea to get together.
But unless we take the initiative to set a date and a time, it’s never going to happen.
To Get to Know Your Neighbors, Be Visible, Be Available
In my prayers, I often ask God to make me aware of the needs around me. I love the idea of being God’s hands and feet. I really do want to love my neighbors.
However, if my neighbors don’t know me because I’m hiding in my house, I’m essentially keeping my “light hidden under a bushel.”
You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. Matthew 5:14-16 (NASB)
Pray for your neighbors. Walk around your neighborhood. Spend time outside–visible to others, and available to others. Introduce yourself. Slowly, but surely, get to know your neighbors.
Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it requires effort. And yes, I’m more comfortable in my own little bubble.
But we are called to die to ourselves, so that Christ can shine through us.
Let your light shine.
What are other concrete ways you can get to know your neighbors and foster community?Come walk with God...across the street.
Jill Douglas is a mom, expat, and writer who got started blogging about living in Mexico. After realizing that she was a bit evangelical about Mexico, she then found out that it’s even more fun to write about faith! She blogs at jillmichelledouglas.com.
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