High on my list of “things I wish I did better” is any sort of outreach … especially to my neighbors. Yet there’s absolutely no better time to meet these people who share our hallways or streets than at Christmas.
For some, it’s a time when their hearts are sensitive and open to what God might do. For others it’s a very lonely time, especially if they’ve recently moved or had a hard year.
In either situation, most people welcome a friendly smile at their door … especially when you’re not asking them to buy candy or sign a petition.
So when my friend Amy Lively wrote a book about loving your neighbors, I knew I had to read it. And I did. And I loved it so much I endorsed it!
This isn’t just another book filled with ideas on making cookie mixes in a jar, like you can find on Pinterest. Instead it’s a book filled with the fresh wind of the Spirit on how to show the love of Jesus to those who live closest to us.
I hope you enjoy this guest post by Amy. It inspired me to do something more than drive past my neighbors this month.
Meatballs for Breakfast
by Amy Lively
The glittery snowflake ornaments I had purchased for the neighbors on my street, a cheery greeting tied to each one, were getting tangled in a bag in my car and it was the morning of Christmas Eve. It’s now or never, I scolded myself, so I washed my face and put on a hat to cover my messy bed head, then set out to wish my neighbors a merry Christmas.
No one answered at the first two houses, so I hung the ornament on their doorknobs and moved on. The neighbors who were home seemed delighted and we quickly exchanged holiday pleasantries. At the last house, however, a man I barely knew swung the door wide open and invited me inside. “Tina, we have a visitor!” he called to his wife.
The yards that separated us might as well have been miles.
Tom and Tina lived just two houses up from me, but I had only met them twice in the past twelve years. When I invited her to an Open House several years before, she explained that she worked full time. We waved if we happened to catch each other outside, and they came to our neighborhood block party a few months before.
Tom ushered me into their delicious-smelling kitchen and pulled out a barstool at the island. Every burner was bubbling with something wonderful, the oven was full, and several Crockpots lined the counters. Tina came around a corner pulling her robe tightly closed and gave me a friendly but awkward smile, poor thing, her husband had invited the crazy neighbor lady in while she was still wearing her pajamas, on Christmas Eve of all days!
This is a turning point in any tenuous neighborly relationship, and Tina turned it in a new and beautiful direction when she asked, Would you like a meatball? In the midst of a busy holiday and getting ready for their son’s wedding just three days later, my neighbors welcomed me, fed me, and became my friends.
Something special happened when I put “love my neighbor” on my To-Do list.
I call it Jesus’ #2 Command, and it’s from Matthew 22:37-39 (NLT) –
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The thing is, it’s pretty hard to love someone when you don’t even know them.
I was busy. My neighbors were busy. But we set aside our lists and looked at the people right in front of us. We obeyed Christ’s #2 Command, and it wasn’t weird. In fact, it was wonderful! And as I left their home on the Eve of Christ’s birth, I took a sweet memory and a new friendship home with me.
To enter, leave a comment telling how you will put “Love my neighbor” on your To-Do list this season. If you’re in a hurry, simply say I love my neighbor! in the comments section.
For more information on the book and to read what others are saying, click HERE.