The Art of Neighboring
January 7 - February 11, 2018
We begin the year with a new and engaging sermon series on "The Art of Neighboring" which is sure to be a big challenge but will offer big blessings and small ones along the way. Can you recall how Jesus summed up all the law? It was in two commands. To love God and to love our neighbors. Like the lawyer in the story of the Good Samaritan we ask, "Who is my neighbor?" That's a good question. Who are your neighbors?
The Call to Be Neighboring
Do you know the 8 neighbors to either side, front and back of where you live? Was Jesus talking about some proverbial neighbor on the other side of town or half way around the world, or the neighbors who actually live next door? We probably have many thoughts about those neighbors and they likely have a few about us. What we discover is Jesus stepping out and reaching out to us not knowing how we might respond to that. Doesn't Jesus call us to do the same?
Barriers to Being a Good Neighbor
Do you recall how the 12 spies of Israel were sent to the promised land and how ten came back with a fearful report while two said we should go into the land God said we should go to? The scripture says, "we felt like grasshoppers in their eyes" How did they come to think that? Did they go talk to those people? The scripture does not indicate they did. Think about this. "What if what I have been telling myself about my neighbor isn't true?"
Growing Relationships With Our Neighbors
Anyone can be a good neighbor, we just must think about it a little more often and heed Jesus's words to love our neighbors. Take it step by step. Just give a little. That is what a young boy did with his fish and loaves when a bunch of people came to hear Jesus but didn't plan for lunch very well. And if we all give a little, we allow God to get in the mix and that is when miracles happen.
Ulterior vs Ultimate Motives in Neighboring
Ulterior means something is intentionally kept concealed. The kind of motive we should be going for is the ultimate motive. Ultimate means the farthest point of a journey. An ultimate goal is an eventual point or a longed-for destination. So, we should be-friend our neighbors so we can show them the love and grace of God and let God do the rest. We do not convert people, God does.
Learning Healthy Boundaries With Our Neighbors
How does that scripture we know as the Golden Rule work for you when it comes to neighboring? You know, "do unto others as you would have them do unto you"? And when do you know if what you are doing is what is needed, versus crossing the line and going too far? That is always the difficult decision. How far should we go in trying to help someone?
Learning to Forgive and Live at Peace with Our Neighbors
Forgiving others who have wronged us in some way may be one of the hardest things we must do in life. Yet, Jesus says to us we are to forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart. I presume that means our neighbors as well. Neighboring is not going to be easy or convenient work. We will get along just fine with some neighbors. It could be we also have an antagonistic neighbor who seem to be rotten. Forgiving our neighbors will always be important if we are ever to move toward any level of reconciliation