Finding Common Ground

August, 2019 – Tampa

“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

Who is my neighbor?

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My obvious neighbors are those in my neighborhood. I’m thankful for the community in which I live. Where you can have a block party and someone prays before you eat. Where the kids dance in the street and we eat potluck and lots of desserts. Where when a teen is severely hurt in an accident, churches, schools, and others pray together for his healing.

My other neighbors are my church family, who live near and far. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. These should be the ones I uphold in prayer and care for at all times.

It sounds odd to say my physical family members are my neighbors, but they are, too. I am to honor my mother and father always. I honor my father’s memory with respect. I am to honor my mother in the way I care for her and respect her, no matter how old I get.

But really, my neighbor is anyone I come in contact with day to day. The waitress, the cashier, the homeless person. Do I follow the word of God in these matters? More importantly, do I share God’s word with others? Do I share how He died for sinners? Do I share this treasure or keep it hidden under a basket? Here are some verses to ponder.

 Proverbs 3:28

Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,” When you have it with you.

 

Isaiah 41:5-7

The coastlands saw it and feared,
The ends of the earth were afraid;
They drew near and came.
 Everyone helped his neighbor,
and said to his brother,
“Be of good courage!”
 So the craftsman encouraged the goldsmith;
He who smoothes with the hammer inspired him who strikes the anvil,
Saying, “It is ready for the soldering”;
Then he fastened it with pegs,
That it might not totter.

 

Mark 12:30-32

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.  This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 

Luke 1:57-59

 Now Elizabeth’s full time came for her to be delivered, and she brought forth a son. When her neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.

 

Romans 13:10

Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law

 

Romans 15:1-3

 We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.”

 

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