We had some friends over and they noticed a moving van in our neighbor’s driveway. “Oh, your neighbors are moving! Aren’t they the mean ones? Bet you aren’t sad to see them go!” Well, actually we aren’t too sad to see them go, especially their three barking dogs that run into our driveway and jump up on our boys. But the fact that we aren’t sad to see them go made me sad.
My husband recently posted this on Facebook: “If the church you attend closed their doors for good, would anyone in the community notice?” But I want to make that even more personal. If you moved, would anyone in your neighborhood notice? Would they miss you? Are you making an impact?
Where we currently live it seems especially hard to get to know our neighbors. Kids aren’t playing out in the street every night. People drive by when we’re on our evening walks and don’t even wave back. Around the corner there was a pastor’s family who adopted a five-year-old from Ethiopia (we are a pastor’s family adopting from Ethiopia, too!) and we didn’t meet them until four weeks before they sold their house and moved. The boy right across the street is in a special ed class similar to our son James’s class and they rode the same van. Even when I talked to the little boy outside one night and told his dad how similar our sons are, he still didn’t want to talk. It’s easy for me to get discouraged and decide it’s just too much work to draw these people out of their homes and busy lives. But it is worth it.
In my free e-book, Love Your Neighbor: A 14-Day Guide, I told the story of our neighbors who came over before a hurricane hit and did yard work for us, made a trench for water to flow out of our driveway, and even climbed onto the roof and cleaned out our gutters. They not only made an impact on us, but Lee’s parents were visiting that weekend and our neighbors made an impact on them.
Making an impact doesn’t requiring climbing ladders, it can be as simple as sharing the extra tomatoes from your garden. It could mean you plan a block party, or it could mean you invite one family over for a cookout. Because we live in Pennsylvania, one time we really get to know our neighbors is when it snows. Everyone is out at the same time shoveling. This year we could make hot chocolate and deliver it to neighbors when they are out.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31 (emphasis mine)
To love our neighbors we need to know our neighbors, and that takes effort.
Is there a step you can take this week that will help you get to know your neighbors? Pray about it, write down ideas, and then act on them. Make an impact on your neighborhood!