“First, we have an incredibly weighty existence which requires that we respect God and our neighbor whether the latter is a Christian or not. It means that we should expect to find common ground with non-Christians as a natural part of human existence.” – Michael Horton
I find myself thinking about my neighbors a lot lately, mainly because I’m still new in the neighborhood. When I meet someone, I try to remember to write down the person’s name when I get home and something to remember them by, like a house number or a dog’s name. I’ve met 14 neighbors on my street so far. I’ve found a little common ground, such as other dog owners, someone who recently lost a family member, and one who likes strawberries. There are differences, too, such as a practicing Buddhist, the young couples, the single mom. But we can all talk about yard work, termites, and good restaurants. I just want the conversations to one day go beyond watering the yard to something more substantial. All in good time; all in God’s time.
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ - Matthew 22:37-39
Extravagant Grace is a book written by Barbara Duguid. She uses John Newton’s teaching on sanctification to explain God’s sovereignty over sin. Duguid is the wife of a Presbyterian pastor in Pennsylvania and the mother of six. The quotes in this series come from her book.
“I had not yet learned that you don’t have to be abused to be messed up; you just have to be a human!”
In our finite human minds, it’s easy to understand why someone with a rough background, an abusive past, or a survivor of some tragedy would turn out to be “bad”. What we often don’t understand is that we are all “bad”, all sinners. Some may show it more outwardly than others, but it’s in all of us. That expression, “there but for the grace of God go I” is one I have to bring to mind often.
For whatever reason, only He knows, God has put a protective hand on me. I was never abused. Sure, I’ve experienced death, car accidents, loss of jobs and income; all the things most of us will experience in our lifetime.To say we are all human is an understatement. We’ve read stories of those who have suffered tremendously, yet survived and overcame and thrived. Then, there are those with the proverbial “silver spoon” who have wrecked their own lives.
The bottom line is that we are all sinners, all capable of just about anything. What I have learned from pondering these things is that I should not get smug in any goodness I think I have. God has allowed me to have a life that by many standards is very blessed, very comfortable. No, not a rich life monetarily, but, then again, comparatively it may be. Not a happy-go-lucky life. But, a life of growing knowledge of Him. And that is only by His grace.