Scaring Loving My New Neighbor
On the way to preach about loving your neighbor last Sunday, I saw the wife of my neighbor across the street—whom I’ve never met and whose name I don’t know—directing the moving truck into their driveway. As you might have guessed, they are moving. The moving truck blocked the street for a few minutes. I sat in my car, somewhat impatiently, waiting to pass so I could deliver a message about loving your neighbor. The thought occurred to me that I should speak to her, at least before she moves.
So I rolled down my window and said in my best Captain Obvious voice, “Moving day?” “Yeah, it’s moving day,” she said. “Where are you moving?” I inquired. “Into the new Sweetwater Estates eventually, but right now in with family until the house is finished,” she replied. Then she added, “Hope you like the new neighbors.” Perhaps she secretly meant, “Hope you meet your new neighbors.”
I wished her well, said goodbye to my neighbor I had never met before until the day she literally moved out, and went to preach about loving your neighbor. What a joke, right?
Believe it or not, God uses my own messages to give me a kick in the pants from time to time, and last weekend’s message was one of those occasions. I told Melinda when I got home after preaching, “God’s giving us another chance and we are going to be better neighbors with this new neighbor moving in across the street!”
Sure enough, later that evening, I saw a car in the neighborhood I hadn’t seen before. I watched from the shadows of my garage as a lady got out and approached the now vacant house of my former name-less neighbors. I decided to go for it. I speed-walked up the street to greet the startled lady and semi-shouted, “Are you my new neighbor?”
She hesitated for a second, probably thinking, “I was going to be, but now I’m not sure…” She politely said, “Why, yes I am.” I eagerly introduced myself. She told me her name. She said she and her mother had bought the house together. Her mother is a retired teacher from out of state. She herself has lived in the area for a while and had been looking at several houses in our neighborhood. Little does she know, she picked the one near the guilt-ridden pastor who is determined to practice what he preaches about neighboring. This should be a fun new adventure for both of us!
So how’s the loving your neighbor thing going for you? Could you silence the convicting voice of the “sheet of shame”? If you’re not sure what that means, you should really watch last week’s message.
Regardless of how this plays out in your neighborhood, I just want to remind us of one important thought I read recently in my friend Rick Rusaw’s book on neighboring. We love our neighbor not to make them Christians; we love our neighbor because we are Christians. Do you understand the difference? One approach treats people as projects and nobody likes to be thought of as somebody’s project.
This weekend, we continue the Life On Mission series by talking about talking…or more precisely, how to share the hope of Jesus that is in us, with gentleness and respect. A writer named Ed Stetzer wrote, “Saying ‘preach the gospel; when necessary use words’ is a lot like saying ‘feed the hungry; when necessary use food.’ Both are silly when people need bread—and the bread of life.”
Sharing Jesus almost always includes words. Let’s learn together how to do that better this weekend, and how to do it without being weird about it. Here’s an introduction to the big idea behind the Share step:
Journey Easter 5K is…
-not a race that we run, but something (someone?) can definitely be won
-not a distance to be covered, but a door that can be opened
-not a solo activity, but a team-engagement strategy
-not a fundraiser, but a faith builder
-not a one-time event, but a come-back-again environment
Simply put, Journey Easter 5k is our volunteer preparation strategy for hosting 5,000 or more people at seven Easter services on two different campuses. The Easter service times are:
Saturday, April 15, at 4 and 6PM;
Sunday, April 16, at 9:30AM, 11:15AM and 1PM at Apopka, and
Sunday, April 16, at 9:30AM and 11:15AM at Mount Dora.
To host 5,000 successfully, I want to tell you about five strategic service areas where you can make a difference:
1) Next Gen;
2) First Impressions;
4) Worship support;
5) Parking assistants
In the coming weeks, be watching for opportunities to join the team in preparing for Journey’s Easter 5k.
What’s Next After NEXT?
Last weekend, 47 people attended our first ever NEXT orientation. That’s a great turnout, but you don’t have to attend NEXT to take a next step! In fact, you can start this weekend by…
-Attending the Baptism Class this Saturday at 6PM led by Pastor Randy Green in the Anchor Room.
-Starting with Starting Point led by Pastor Randy Green on Sunday at 9:30AM in the Lighthouse Room.
-Learning about yourself and serving opportunities at the Serving Orientation led by Pastor Anita Burns on Sunday at 11:15AM in the Lighthouse Room.
Remember, there’s always a next step when you’re following Jesus!
Loving the next-step Journey!