the weblog of Alan Knox

Love your neighbor again…

Posted by on Mar 6, 2008 in blog links, discipleship, love | 10 comments

Jonathan at “Missio Dei” has written another excellent post called “Love Your Neighbor“. In the post, he recalls a conversation in which someone was struggling with the enormous number of issues that affect us and the world around us every day. Jonathan says:

[T]he temptation is to want to solve…every problem. Things press on us. They shout at our face…NOTICE ME. It’s hard not to want to notice, to give real issues our time and attention. I’ve often thought of throwing it all to the wind and serving as a missionary in a war torn country. I’ve actually looked into work for NGO’s and positions at the UN. But ultimately I didn’t feel called.

And as I stood there listening to my friend, I began to wonder if Jesus was somehow taking a weight from us when he said, “Love your neighbor.” What if we needed the reminder that we’re not called to solve every problem. We can’t. He’s simply asking us to love right where we’re at, to bring love to those we are already in relationship with. These are the people we are most likely to bring restoration to. These are the people we are most likely to touch in a significant way.

What if we’re not called to solve all the worlds problems? Just the ones that we’re called to. And they live right next door.

I can’t end world hunger. But, I can provide food for a neighbor who is in need. I can’t free the oppressed of the world. But, I can help a neighbor who is struggling to find a job or start over after a difficult situation. I can’t solve all of the world’s problems. But, I can listen to and care for the neighbor who is struggling, discouraged, depressed, or lonely.

But, in order to love my neighbor, I must know my neighbor.


10 Comments

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  1. 3-6-2008

    thanks for your kind words Alan.

  2. 3-6-2008

    I’m not too sure about that one, I tend to disagree with the “bloom where you’re planted approach” and seek to recover the biblical vision for life in common, struggling to define what a koinonia would look like.

    At the end of the day the body of Christ is global, and it’s all too easy to ignore communities which are less privileged than ours.

    -Dany (www.donotfreeze.blogspot.com)

  3. 3-6-2008

    “Anonymous”,
    Could it be perhaps that God might call some to move about, like Paul, and others to love neighbors where they are, like the Apostles who stayed in Jerusalem?

  4. 3-6-2008

    Jonathan,

    Thank you for a great post!

    Dany,

    Thank you for the comment. I agree with you, because I don’t think of my neighber as simply the person living next to me. I have neighbors all over the world. The point that I was trying to make is that I can’t defeat a global problem like world hunger. However, I can help a hungry neighbor that I know abut – even a neighbor that lives on the other side of the world.

    Larry,

    I think its true that God calls people to live in different locations. At the same time, we should have a global outlook when it comes to the church and our neighbors.

    -Alan

  5. 3-6-2008

    We don’t have to go to another country to minister to others. The hurting, the discouraged , the lonely, they are right there, in our neighborhoods. I believe that God calls some to minister in other places, and some He needs right where they are. I want to share an experience that my 12 year old daughter recently had. My daughter was having problems with a girl at school. This girl was being very mean to her and she didn’t know why. So I said, “why don’t you try being nice to her and see what happens.” I told her that maybe this girl was struggling with something in her life and maybe she needed a friend. My daughter started to be friends with this girl and I had no idea of the extent of what this young girl was struggling with. She was pregnant, at 12 years old. I was shocked when my daughter told me, more so because of this girls age. My daughter was uncertain as to what to do. So, I said, there is nothing we can do about her situation, but you can still be her friend and be there for her. Some problems are not for us to solve, but we can be there to help others through them.

  6. 3-6-2008

    anonymous,

    Thank you for sharing your daughter’s story with us. This is exactly the kind of godly, neighborly love that I had in mind when I read Jonathan’s post.

    -Alan

  7. 3-7-2008

    I’m an irredeemable political economist. I do rack my brain trying to end world hunger. Maybe that’s where I was planted, but I also think that there is a polical economy in the Gospel, one that needs recovering.

    I have nothing against loving one’s immediate neighbour, but the works of mercy as mandated by the Gospel involve those who are hungry, thirsty, without clothes, ill, imprisonned. Nobody can claim that this is not going on in our world today, because it is. I’ll abastain from describing real life situtaions but we all know what I mean.

    Whenever I hear people claim that bringing a bunch of daffodils to an elderly relative is living out the gospel, somthing in me wants to scream.

    Dany

  8. 3-7-2008

    Um sorry, I realise I left a few typos on my last comment…

  9. 3-7-2008

    Dany,

    Your point is well taken. The thought occurred to me however that taking a bunch of daffodils to an elderly relative, who is lonely, feels useless, unwanted and unneeded, may indeed be living out the gospel in that moment.

    If we are so busy saving the world, meeting urgent needs halfway around the world that we neglect the needs of those right beside us, are we really living out the love of God? Could it be that we derive a greater feeling of importance when trying to solve the big problems in the world than we do when all that is needed is a cup of cold water? Ultimately we need not choose between local or global needs – big or small needs. The love of God is big enough to reach the shut-in across the street and the hungry orphan half-way across the world. The real challenge in my own life isn’t how far away a needy person may be, but whether I can stop focusing on myself long enough to notice them.

  10. 3-7-2008

    Dany and Brent,

    Thank you for continuing this discussion. I think your comments demonstrates how important it is for believers to listen to one another. You both have passions – I believe both are God-given passions. If we do not listen to one another, then we are likely to focus on our passions and forget about other ways that God calls believers to live out the gospel. All are important.

    -Alan