Love Where You Live
“Love… Where You Live” because it’s really the most basic and perhaps most effective way to demonstrate the love of Jesus to others. The events and restrictions of the last ten months have limited our travel to almost every mission field on earth, except the one we overlook the most: the ones right where we live. I think it was J.John who said ‘Let’s all go on a mission trip…go next door.’
This was a profound theological truth that Jesus identified it as the second greatest commandment.
Read: Matthew 22:34-40
Right here as students of Jesus, we have been given two powerful commands First, the “Great Commission”… “Go and make disciples…” and Second, the “Great Commandment”… “Love God and love People!”
Love your neighbour is really important because if we were having a conversation right now some would be saying; “Pastor, I know God called me to love my neighbour. But I think of my ‘neighbours’ as my co-workers, my children, students at our school/college, our church family but not necessarily the people who happen to live next door to us.” But the word used in Matthew 22 and Luke 10 for neighbour is telling: because it is from the root word meaning near, near to. In other words, a neighbour is someone close by. Here’s the big idea of that word: God has sovereignly placed you among your neighbours.
Remember in Luke’s account of the same conversation, one of those listening asked Jesus to specify who qualified as a “neighbour.” Jesus’ response is where we get one of the most famous parables: The Good Samaritan. Central to the idea of the Good Samaritan is that people were trying to get around caring for neighbours, those who were right in front of them by redefining who their neighbours were:
Jesus says that any person irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, skin colour, political persuasion, faith with whom we chance to meet is our neighbour, even if there was no previous relationship! The heart of the answer is that there is no one, no matter how different from us they may be who exempts us from the call to love our neighbour.
Here’s what we need to understand: the people around us were placed near us for a reason. The truth is, you can see everyone as our neighbour and love them and honour God through it. Doesn’t it seem wrong, given what the Scripture says about the importance of our placement, that we’d ignore our literal neighbours?
In Acts 17:24-27 the apostle Paul speaking to philosophers in Athens says: The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him. Yet He is actually not far from each one of us,
Note: We were placed in our neighbourhood for a reason and so were our neighbours.
What does it mean to love our neighbours? Sometimes we overlook the practical idea of loving. What if the command said, “Like your neighbour”? What would you do to express like? That might be an easier way to think about this and that kindness can be a springboard to loving them. God is calling us to invest in our neighbours, sacrifice for our neighbours when necessary and ultimately, to show the kindness of God to our neighbours.
There is a great irony that exists in the church: many Christians tend to jump the Great Commandment (to love God and people) in order to get to the Great Commission (to make disciples). To be effective we have to do both, love God, love people and make disciples.
How, then, are we to love our neighbours? Jesus tells us: “Love your neighbour as YOURSELF.”
Think of how very much we do love ourselves, of how much of our activity centres aroundimagine what it would be like if we showered that love on our neighbours. Then we should go and do it. The people around us matter immensely to God.
Have you ever thought about how these two commands are connected – Love God and love people? We love God with everything within us because God first loved us.
If we look closely at the story of the Good Samaritan, we’ll see Jesus in the role of the Samaritan: a stranger who had no obligation whatsoever to help someone who could have been considered an enemy. Yet He stepped outside of His own rights, entered into our pain, and gave His own life for us. That’s the heart of the Gospel!
Jesus gave His life for YOU. He is the Shepherd who left the safety of the fold for the dark and dangerous night outside. To His banquets He welcomed tax collectors, trouble makers and prostitutes. He came for the sick and not well, for the unrighteous and not the righteous and to those who betrayed Him especially the disciples, who abandoned Him at His time of greatest need instead Jesus responded like a lovesick father.
I want to encourage you these next few weeks in this opportunity. Let’s show kindness to our neighbours!
The “Great Commission”… “Go and make disciples…” and Second, the “Great Commandment”… “Love God and love People.