As many pastors have pointed out, sometimes we as Christians, focused on mission trips or mission needs around the world, fail to notice those who live right next door. So true. Lance Ford and Brad Brisco challenge Christians to be good neighbors in Next Door as It Is In Heaven: Living Out God's Kingdom in Your Neighborhood.
Rehashing some of our cultural history, Ford and Brisco point out how separated we are from our neighbors. For many of our parents or grandparents, church, neighborhood, school, commerce, employment, and recreation all had a great degree of overlap. This is less true today, especially in our scattered suburbs. Many of us spend more time in our cars than getting to know our neighbors. Interestingly enough, they point to commercialism and consumerism as major culprits in creating the image of the family as an isolated, individualistic unit.
I like the quote they used from Frederick Buechner: "If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors." We should be practicing biblical hospitality (which, they point out, is distinct from entertaining) and inclusion, "loving strangers and welcoming people into our lives." And above all, look for Jesus in your neighbor: "We desire to be in the presence of the Lord. What we so often miss is that his very presence is available right now, through the presence of those made in his image."
Next Door is practical, yet convicting. They don't beat the reader over the head, but they do want to snap us out of our too-often insular existences. I tried to justify myself. "I know my neighbors. . . . I am connected to others on my street. . . ." But I have to face up to it. My neighbors will be blessed (and my life will be enriched) to the extent that I "neighbor" better.
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!
2016 Reading Challenge: A book about evangelism