Do I Have To Like My Neighbor?

A few years after Karen and I were married, we started attending a small Charismatic church in our neighborhood. Our small and friendly church was literally adjacent to a very conservative church—we shared a common retaining wall. Years earlier, the church had purchased a piece of property from our church to build a larger parking lot. One would think that an act like that would create a rather cordial relationship between the two congregations, but au contraire.
Both churches held their services simultaneously. Every Sunday, as soon as I got out of our car, I would start waving at our neighbors attending the church next door. In all the years we attended church there, none of our Christian neighbors ever waved back at me. Somehow, their more correct theology prevented them from showing the love of Christ to those Christians whose theology was not quite as sophisticated as theirs. I often wondered, “Isn’t loving our neighbors as ourselves a part of Christ’s greatest mandate to his followers? Even if they considered me a heathen dog, I still deserved some crumbs off their righteous table, as the Grecian woman said to Jesus.”
By the way, we, the Charismatic believers, might think we are more ecumenical than other denominations, but when it comes to loving our neighbors as ourselves, we have our own unique issues. I attended a Charismatic mega church for years. Next to the  property was a Masonic temple. During all the 12 years that I attended church there, I never paid any attention to our Mason neighbors. After all, they were a bunch of demon-possessed people who should have been avoided at any cost.
I will never forget the day when my friend Terry, a staff member at the mega church, was asked by the leadership to inquire into the possibility of purchasing the Masonic temple. This is what the temple’s caretaker said to Terry, “You people have been our neighbors for 14 years. Not once have you even acknowledged our presence, and when you finally have, it’s because you want us out of the neighborhood.”
In one of my earliest posts, “Are You A Heat Waver”, I asked the following question: if you the individual (If you’re a pastor, I’m not talking about your church building, or your church members, but you and your family.) move out of your neighborhood tonight, will your neighbors miss you tomorrow? If not, why not?
As Dallas Willard said, “The key to understanding the teachings of Jesus still remains: Loving our neighbors as ourselves in the power of God.  And when you think about what that means, you realize that if that were done, almost every problem that we have in our cities would be solved. All we have to do is to simply follow Jesus’ words.”
Recently, at a meeting related to the Neighborhood Initiative, a movement started by my dear friend, Lynn Cory, a pastor shared with the 60 pastors present the difficulty he had in connecting with his neighbors. “I’m in a tough neighborhood. I don’t know how to approach my neighbors,” he said. I suggested that he starts waving at anyone who walked or drove by his house. Yesterday, I received this video clip by him (It might take a while to load).
It’s amazing what a genuine act of kindness through the love of Christ can do.
PS. If you’re interested in reaching out to your neighbors, may I suggest the book, Neighborhood Initiative written by Lynn Cory? You can buy it on Amazon, or get it directly from: www.neighborhoodintiative.org
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13 thoughts on “Do I Have To Like My Neighbor?

  1. Living in a condo, there were some rude, crude, obnoxious, loud, heedless, careless, thoughtless, young, boisterous, offensive people who moved in upstairs from me.
    This was a HARD LESSON.
    After feuding with them for a year or more things were no better. I could not make them quiet down, or shut up, or be nice.
    Then GOD put it upon my heart that instead of cursing them every time I glanced up at the ceiling at some new incursion, I must PRAY FOR GOD TO BLESS THEM sincerely, and from my heart.
    Hard at first, it became easier, and I was able to pray for God to bless them every time they crossed my mind, and I more or less forgot about their rudeness.
    Later, God impressed me to start praying that this rude young couple would have a baby.
    Then I heard they were expecting a baby.
    Then I started to pray for a happy healthy baby.
    The happy, healthy, bouncing baby boy was safely born.
    (We were still not talking).
    Ironically, the baby was so sensitive to noise that the couple could not play the stereo, the radio, or the TV, and the wife (who had been deserted by her boyfriend) had to sleep on the sofa, because her snoring would wake the baby. And if the baby were awakened he would bawl loudly for 45 minutes, and would not be comforted.
    Finally, she moved back with her parents so that her Mother would give free daycare while she worked.
    Then, a tiny Christian (Indonesian) couple moved in upstairs. I never heard so much as a footfall upon the carpet from my new neighbors. It was a miracle. It was GOD.
    It also taught me a new way to pray.

    A friend asked me to pray that their stinky, awful neighbor would move. And I said, “You must forgive him, and pray from your heart that GOD will bless him.” My dear Christian friend replied, “I will never forgive him.” And I said, “Then I cannot pray, and you are stuck with him forever.” That must be at least 10 years ago, and the bad neighbor is still in that house.

    As Jesus asked, “Who then was neighbor to the man?” and the answer, “The Good Samaritan who took pity on him.”

    Big Hug.
    J.

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  2. Hi Shah,

    Paul writes that if we judge our brother at any point we judge ourselves. So should those conservative church goer wave? Yes. But if we judge them for not we judge ourselves. I know there are times I denied when I should have acknowledged.

    Also conservative people are not born that way. After a few years in the system anything not authorized is punished. So they play it safe. Only to be judged by charismatics.

    I had a guy rag on western wedding s one time as boring. I wonder ed by they are boring since they are. But look at Western children. They come out of the womb as wild as anyone.

    It's the culture of”stay in the lines” and these conservative church people are part of the fall out of that training.

    Sad.

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  3. Dennis, Dennis, Thanks for your input.

    I think there's a place for observation and should not be confused with judgment. I know you were referring to me with regard to the American wedding. If that's judgment, then are you wrong when you say, for example, “I like In-N-Out” better than McDonald.” To stop being objective, is to become a liberal 😉

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