I love being a dad. I have two amazing kids (one is five and the other is almost four). There are a few recurring questions that they ask on a regular basis. Some I love and some I, well, I tolerate. Here are a few that are my favorites:
The first is, “Daddy, is this our city?” I respond to this with a resounding, “YES!” Then I ask, “What is the name of OUR city?” and they yell, “HOUSTON!” That is so fun. I pray that instills a sense of ownership in them as they grow up and learn to care for “our city.” The second is, “Is that our neighbor?” This one is asked about random people any and everywhere. My answer is always a simple, “Yes.”
Jesus has a similar answer. In His parable about “The Good Samaritan,” (Luke 10:29-37) Jesus describes your neighbor as anyone around you that is in need of hearing the Truth, experiencing the love, and tasting the care of God.
But what about our neighbors? Our literal neighbors at home and work? Has your neighbor felt the love, care, and hospitality of Jesus and heard the Truth of who He is? Sometimes, it’s easier to say than to do.
A few years ago, I created what I call “The 4 Opens” in response to this call. They are four things we can “open” to help us reach and serve our immediate neighbors. I pray they offer you some guidance, encouragement, and a bit of a challenge.
Open Your Heart
When we think of opening our hearts, we should start by praying for those around us. Pray for them by name if you know it. Pray to meet them if you don’t. Pray as specifically as you can. Pray for the needs you know they have. Pray for creativity in how you can step in and be a part of supporting them in their need. Pray for them to see the Truth of a Sovereign, good, and grace-giving God in your life. Open your hearts and pray for your neighbor.
Open Your Door
Get outside of your house. Get a couple of chairs and hang out. Wash your car and cut your grass when you are more likely to see people. Most importantly, when you do see a neighbor, BE NEIGHBORLY. You can even get a little weird and wait to check the mail or take out the trash until you see a neighbor outside. Open your door and get outside.
Open Your Home
So you’ve prayed, you’re outside your house meeting neighbors, now invite them into your home. Invite them over for dinner, a game night, or even a cheese tasting. Pick something you enjoy and invite them to do it with you. Yeah, its that simple. Opening your home communicates vulnerability. By inviting them, you tell them that they matter. Open your home and invite them in.
Open Your Life
The reality of God and the love of Christ is best expressed in the context of Gospel community, the gathered people of God (John 13:35). So let people in beyond the surface of your life. Let them become a fixture. EXPECT them to become a fixture. As you make yourself more and more vulnerable, you will invite them to be more vulnerable. And that is how we get to the conversations that matter. They will eventually ask you why you have the hope that you have. You’ll get to tell them of your glorious hope in Christ. (1 Peter 3:15). That is the point after all. Out of our love for both God and people, we cannot help but proclaim the Truth of Jesus for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. In Romans 10:14, we are reminded that we can’t expect them to believe in Christ if they haven’t heard the good news. So, open your lives to your neighbors and invite those from your Gospel community to be a part of the process. Open. Your. Life.
What are some intentional and relational ways you have connected well with your neighbors and your immediate community? Respond in the comments below.
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