“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31
The rain poured down. Rushing home from work to save my probably-soaked packages, what I found instead was a note through the mail slot: “Your packages are at our home across the street. It was raining really hard!”
After a moment of surprise, I looked across the street trying to recollect the faces of my neighbors. But try as I might, I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t. That’s when the Lord convicted my heart. In all the busyness of the months since moving in, I had never once thought to look beyond my 1000 square feet of one city block. I had been so consumed with my own life, my own plans, my own problems...that I failed to see the people God planted a few yards from me.
In his article, “Real Christians Know Their Neighbors”, Jarrid Wilson points this out as a telling mark of Christ-followers:
“We are called to be different from the rest of the world and to love people without limits. That’s surely something this world isn’t used to. In the same way we show love to our friends, family, and coworkers, we need to be extending that same love and compassion to the people we come across casually in our everyday lives.”
Take a second to think of all the people who closely surround you in your daily life. As Wilson mentioned, these are likely your friends, family, coworkers. They are the individuals God has put right in front of you to love, to serve, to reach out to and care for. But your reach shouldn’t stop there.
Now take moment to think of the people in your periphery: the barista at the coffeeshop you frequent, the elderly woman you pass on your morning run, that family with the annoying dog who lives down the street. These are the people who God has, in His providence, very intentionally crossed your path with. It’s not an accident that they’re there. They—just as much as that first list—are the individuals God has put right in front of you to love, to serve, to reach out to and care for.
It is so easy to go about our lives without looking beyond our own problems. But we have to realize that there is a cyclical effect to a life lived with Christ: we are to go deeper in so that we can go further out (which then enables us to go even deeper in). And part of that outward turn is an action-affecting awareness of those who seem to have no immediate bearing on our daily lives.
Think of Christ. Along with the close disciples he poured into every day, he carved out time to engage with those on the fringes. Not just the visible needy, but the invisibly (and often emotionally) destitute. And that’s when miracles happened.
If we live caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and stuck in the cycle of work and recovery, we’ll miss out on the life-changing impact God wants us to have. And you know what? We’ll miss out on the miracles.
Our lives have built-in opportunities to make a difference. May we have the courage to embrace them.
“Real Christians know their neighbors. Real Christians go out of their way to meet people in need, shake their hands and turn strangers into friends.” -Jarrid Wilson
God, thank You that You’ve given my life built-in opportunities to make a difference. May I see every place—from the gas station to the house next door—with an entirely new set of eyes. Help me be intentional in my actions, selfless in my motives, and courageous enough to follow through. And above all, may it be Your love that I reflect, and Your Spirit that works through me. Amen.
Article date: July 6, 2017
Cristina Rutkowski is the editor of BibleStudyTools.com
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