This Sunday we are starting a new series called Neighbors. The timing of this series is perfect for our church. We just finished a series on Generosity so honestly I think these two two are a fantastic match as we officially enter summer. This past Sunday we were reminded from Ephesians 1:3-6 that we represent Christ when we express gospel generosity by sacrificing for the needs of those around us. He is more than just the perfect model, He is the perfect sacrifice who gave himself to the needs of others. This is the gospel!
You may recall that Jesus commands us to love our neighbors! We will be reminded of His command as we see if lived out in various forms over the next 5 weeks. That command is revealed throughout the gospels but this Sunday we will specifically focus on Mark 12:28-31. When the Jewish religious leaders came to Jesus in the hopes of finding fault in his answers to their questions, they asked a question that affects every person that claims to be a follower of Christ. They simply asked, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” (Mark 12:8) and Jesus responds by reciting the Shema, “Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:29-30; Deuteronomy 6:4-5). Before they can ask another question, He continues and says, “the second [commandment] is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31)
Mark 12 makes it clear that all of the commandments of God can be summed up in four words: love God; love others. We love God by giving Him glory through corporate worship, walking in the Spirit, choosing to follow Him. Deuteronomy 6:4-5 tells us to love God with everything that we have and it is through the process of learning to love God with everything that we have that we grow in our Christ-likeness. It is in this process of learning to love God that we also begin to understand why and how we should love others.
Here are 4 practical ways to love your neighbors:
Meet your neighbors – You can’t love someone if you ignore them. Meeting neighbors and having good conversation helps us get to know them and understand their needs. God can use you to help meet the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of your neighbors.
Pray for your neighbors – As we get to know people, we ask God for creative ways to engage & love them. Pray for opportunities to share the gospel with neighbors in a loving and compassionate way.
Gather with your neighbors – The Harmon family has always loved gathering with people. Over the years these gatherings have included recreational activities in the park, backyard hangouts, dessert or watching the game on TV. Spending time with neighbors has been a great experience.
Bless your neighbors – Challenge yourself to bless three people each week by meeting a need: bring them a favorite food, offer to watch their kids, make yourself available for yard-work.
Keep your ears open for opportunities to bless those in close proximity.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) also contribute to the New Life blog.