The wisdom literature of the Bible is explored in this series.  We discover how living life according to its original, God-centered design is the pathway to wisdom.

The wisdom literature of the Bible is explored in this series.  We discover how living life according to its original, God-centered design is the pathway to wisdom.

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Loving My Neighbor Better

(Based on The Art of Neighboring)

If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!  –Matthew 7:11

Everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.  –John 13:35

Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

–Matthew 22:38-40

“What if we took the time to get to know the people next to us and discovered that they aren’t so menacing after all?”  p. 18

 

 

Benefits:

·      God is honored and his Church’s reputation is improved.

·      It creates a strong support system around us and between our neighbors.

·      It improves our neighborhood’s security (people overcome their fears, isolation etc.)

·      It causes us to slow down and intentionally value people more than things.

·      It furthers God’s kingdom while making discipleship a possibility in our neighbors’ lives.

 

Key Principles:

·      The answer to the question “Who is my neighbor?” is both literally those living next to me as well as figuratively those in need.

·      Our ministry to our neighbors is more than a fish sticker and never a “ministry project.” “We don’t love our neighbors to convert them; we love our neighbors because we are converted.” P. 102

·      Keep the long-term picture in mind—relationships are progressive and take time.

·      Choose people over screens.

·      Loving our neighbor is not a science, it’s an art—different for us and each neighbor.

·      Healthy relationships are reciprocal.

·      Be present at gatherings where space is created for people to meet (i.e. meals, parties, celebrations, workdays, sports, and Facebook).

·      Wisely give of yourself and your resources to love others.  When you give away what you have, Jesus will give you more to give.

·      Invest in relationships that are working, while looking for God to provide a “person of peace” to open the door to other relationships.

 

The First Step (LEARN):

·      Slow down, simplify and prioritize our lives so we have “margins” and time for others around us. “In this life, we can do only a few things really well; I think it’s a good idea to make certain that one of those things is what Jesus says in most important.” p. 50 quote

·      Overcome your fears— wave, nod, say “Hello!” Walk across the street, hall, workplace (read 1 Peter 3:13-16).

·      Write down names in the household and their “story” (work/interests/dreams).  Remember—this is not an interview: it’s extending friendship over time.

·      Pray for their needs (concerns, struggles, physical needs etc.).

 

The Second Step (INVITE):

·      Keep praying as specifically as possible.  Pray for opportunities to be served by your neighbor (model of Jesus sending out the 72 disciples (Luke 10).

·      The goal is to move from being a stranger to an acquaintance to relationship.

·      If you’re invited, go to parties (alcohol will probably be a part of it, even in excess).

·      Consider initiating the event that brings people together—a small gathering (baking, book club, attending community event together), or large (block party, open house)

 www.artofneighboring.com has resources to help you plan.

 

The Third Step (GIVE):

·      Keep praying as specifically as possible.  Pray for opportunities to serve your neighbor.

·      Share the things you love (hobbies, family events, holidays, movies, dinner out etc.).

·      Beware of your motives—the goal is to love your neighbor.  Someday you might have an opportunity to plant a “gospel seed” or water, or even reap.  That’s God’s work.  Our job is to be intentional in our love and ready to give an answer for our faith.

·      Doing things with people instead of for people is the goal.

 

The Fourth Step (HEAR):

·      Learning how to talk with people is a lifetime pursuit:

o   Listen, question, and clarify (James 1:19)

o   Talk about what you both share in common (weather, community news etc.)

o   Talk about basic information—How long you’ve lived in neighborhood, worked at…, retired from…Where did you grow up?  Married?  Girlfriend?  How did you meet?

·      Be prepared for messy situations (people’s lives) and working through your own boundaries in the relationship.  Stephen Ministries has great resources for this.

·      Be prepared to show forgiveness; people will you're your character to see if your faith is real.

·      Pray for the things they are sharing and your role in supporting them.

 

The Fifth Step (TELL):

·      As you become more open to one another ask questions about heart issues (dreams, desires, regrets, losses, pain etc.)  By this point you’ll know what to ask.  When they’re ready, others will ask you about your story and your heart issues.

·      Be ready to share your faith story as a natural part of sharing your life and story. 

·      Beware of canned approaches, religious language, or sounding preachy.  The goal is to be a faithful witness vs. “closing the deal.”

·      Keep praying for a heart of love; it covers a multitude of sins (yours and theirs!)