One Sunday I arrived at Church after several weeks of absence. I was pleasantly surprised by the topic ‘Who is your neighbour?’ I walked in late (nothing unusual for me), but at least I got there in time to hear our pastor’s wonderful sermon.
Ps Peter’s sermons usually strike a chord with me, but last Sunday it made the bells chime!
Yes, who are our neighbours, and how are we expected to treat them?
I always thought that those in society who are financially well off, or indeed very, very wealthy, would find it a lot harder to find peace and ultimately achieve paradise, with our heavenly Father. I was wrong on two accounts.
Firstly, being rich need not necessarily mean having vast amounts of money in the bank. We can be rich in so many ways, whether it is our good health, our beautiful family, friends, a flower garden we have the joy to tend each day or a myriad of other things. Some people are born blind or have lost their sight, and are unable to see the perfect creations in the same way that many of us can. Some people are deaf and can never hear a sound … like the trickling and tinkling the rain water makes as it cascades down from the gutter, or the early morning greetings we receive from the persistently chirping birds. But did you know that these are often the people that show the most gratitude, are the happiest, and the most generous?
Secondly, just because many of us are rich, doesn’t mean that we are not expected to enjoy these riches. Whether it is money or good health, a beautiful home, wonderful friends, an amazing talent, or any number of things, we must show gratitude for what we have by thanking the ultimate source of our wealth … then paying it forward. Yes, it’s quite simple. We must share with others.
The were five discussion points around healthy and sincere sharing.
- Eat: We all need to eat. Jesus loved to eat. He was always breaking bread with someone. When He went to people’s homes He didn’t immediately break into a full-scale sermon and bible-bash those present into submission. No, He ate and drank with these people in their homes, and got to know them.Yes Jesus was a real foodie. Ah, we have so much in common. In the same way, we need to open our hearts and homes to others and share our gifts. Truly get to know the hearts and minds of our neighbours so that maybe one day they will think ‘what is it about these Christians, why are they so generous with their time, and why are they so impossibly happy? There must be more to this.’
- Listen… really listen. We all love to talk, but there are times when we must just zip it, and listen carefully, whether it is to others or just being quiet and still, listening to what is taking place around us.
- Tell our story. When people are ready to hear about our Jesus, they don’t want to have Bible Verses quoted to them, or perhaps be encouraged to learn specific prayers off by heart. No, they want to hear our story. When did we feel a calling? Have we always been ‘just Christian’ and never given it much thought? Are there any difficult life challenges through which we’ve been assisted by prayer? Tell our story without becoming religious. Real people want to know about people who are just the same as themselves. Once we share our stories, they may feel safe enough to share theirs.
“Teach those who are rich in this world not to be proud and not to trust in their money, which is so unreliable. Their trust should be in God, who richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment. Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and generous to those in need, always being ready to share with others. By doing this they will be storing up their treasure as a good foundation for the future so that they may experience true life.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17-19 (NLT)
- Celebrate! That’s right jump for joy, sing whatever song is in your heart, and enjoy the beautiful gifts and life that God has given us. Get into party mode … but remember to share the joy.
- Relax. This maybe one of the most important points. Often we are so busy doing life that we forget the importance of rest, let alone having the energy it would take to listen, eat, talk, and share generously and graciously with others.
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” ~ John 15:10-12
So, have you guessed it yet? Do you know who our neighbours are?
That’s right our neighbours are all around us. We may not know them, they may live overseas. They might be a block or two away from where we live. They could be the elderly woman under the cardboard box, clutching her few possessions, or perhaps the young boy curled up for the night on a park bench. Maybe it’s a child whose parents cannot afford to buy food or presents for Christmas.
With National Others Week coming up on November 6th, it is such a wonderful opportunity to help and share with others. Maybe we could volunteer for the Heading Home/Ending Homelessness Campaign or make a donation if we are short of time. Perhaps we could purchase a gift through Gospel for Asia for a friend or family member, or for someone overseas in a third-world country, putting a smile on their face and a song in their heart. Maybe the K-Mart Christmas Tree is looking like a good idea this year, or we could invite someone into our home for Christmas lunch, who wouldn’t otherwise have anywhere to go. It just takes a wee bit of effort. If we all just do that ‘little something’, this world would be a richer and happier place. Don’t you think?
It’s so easy to walk by without noticing. Will I notice when my heart is needed most?
“We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” ~ Mother Teresa
I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment below and share your thoughts.
Originally published on my Webnode site ‘Just Jo’Anne’ on 25th October 2016