“I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the Gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9: 22b- 23
The call to love our neighbor is universal. It’s the way in which we include others in our lives that varies. It depends on how we’re wired, where we live, and our sphere of influence. There’s no “one size fits all” model when it comes to dealing with people.
However, there are a few key truths to keep in mind as we intentionally work on being better neighbors within our communities.
- Be a friend first. This should go without saying, but you’d be surprised how easily good intentions can go unseen when we forget that building bridges starts by first building friendships.
- Meet them on their turf. The majority of people who need to experience the grace and love of God aren’t going to just show up at a church — unless someone first meets them on their turf. Don’t expect someone to come to you; go to them.
- It’s not just about being right. How different would your relationships be if your primary goal was to be humble instead of to be right? It’s not about going against God’s Word. It’s about refusing to let unnecessary barriers block people from seeing God’s love and grace. This is the heart of Jesus.
- Be wise. Just because you are free to do something doesn’t mean it is wise to do it. Freedom is a gift that can easily be abused. If we use our free will to impose ourselves on others rather than pointing to God, then we’ve missed the point. Be wise in how you use your freedom to point others to Christ.
The goal of being a good neighbor is simple: Live for the glory of God so others can see the love you have received! It’s really not as difficult as we’ve made it appear. It starts with simply being a friend and accepting people where they are – differences, flaws, and all.
If you’re struggling with loving your neighbor, ask yourself this question: Where were you when you first met Jesus? Look around – there might just be someone stuck in that same place where your life first met freedom. Don’t miss the opportunity to point them to Jesus.
Adapted from a sermon by George Wright
Senior Pastor Shades Mountain Baptist Church, Birmingham, AL