As I travel around, I hear recurring statements regarding the vision of Neighbourhood Life. Outside of the regular fears and business (or busyness) that keep us from engaging in neighbouring, some of those recurring statements make it sound like this is something that can be ‘checked off the list’. Sometimes the ‘to do list’ in regards to our neighbours can be unhelpful, causing us to think of our neighbours as a project that can be completed one day.
One helpful comment came last night as twenty of us gathered from our respective neighbourhoods to discuss how we can put on the “flesh” of Jesus (incarnate) just as God did when He sent Jesus into the world. The comment came in the form of a confession in which “loving your neighbour” would not be treated as an “addition” to the many things that we have to do in life, but as something that is part of our rhythm of life. Another example of this was presented to me in another conversation: This person included his neighbours as part of the hockey team, soon finding the locker room talk revolve around the traditions of Lent. Or the community garden that led to conversations of brokenness and confession. At this point, some say, “That doesn’t really happen!” …..But it does …..in everyday, average, “normal” neighbourhoods just like yours and mine.
It would be offensive to me if I were taught that Jesus’ journey to the cross was out of anything but love for me and my neighbours. I could imagine that Jesus did not feel like going to the cross sometimes, but that too was overshadowed by the love He had for us.
When it comes to loving our neighbours, I suppose it is much like loving a child; when it becomes anything other than love, it becomes an annoyance, or perhaps as the Scriptures put it in the love chapter of I Corinthians 13, “a loud clanging symbol.”