Wondering At God's WillIt has been exciting so far this year. Numerically we have had a great start to the year and yet we are also seeing some spiritual growth. A new young family has started attending church and the Lord has been opening doors that I never dreamed would be open. That does not mean that we have not experienced troubles and trials as we try to do God's will. It seems like it is easy to be misunderstood and Satan wants to use every misunderstanding to his benefit.
Winning HeartsThe Lord has used a book I read to stir my heart early on this year about reaching our neighbors. I felt that as a theme for the ministry this year I would preach once a month on "Who is my Neighbor?" To be honest I always thought that I was a good neighbor until I began to look at what Scripture had to say about it. Remember that Christ said the two greatest commandments are to Love God with all your heart and to love your neighbor as yourself.
As I pondered on the second greatest commandment I was struck by the fact that Christ calls believers to love their enemies in the story of the Good Samaritan but we don't even show love to our neighbors. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we don't like our neighbors, but most people living in this social media generation have become increasingly connected to a screen and disconnected to the people living next door. There once was a day when neighbors helped each other out, borrowed a cup of sugar, and had informal chats over the fence. Today, with the bombardment of negative media we are afraid to engage those nearest to us.
How can we as believes claim that we are good neighbors when we don't even know our neighbors? I was objectively put to the test and failed utterly. Here are the questions I asked myself and I think every believer should ask.
1. What are the first and last names of my 8 closest neighbors?
2. What details do you know about your 8 closest neighbors that you won't know by looking at their house or car? (Example: Where they work?)
3. What personal details do you know about your 8 closest neighbors? (Example: What do they believe? What are they afraid of?
Alright, how did you do? About 10 percent of people can fill out the names of all eight of their neighbors. About 3 percent can answer question 2 for every home. Less than 1 percent can answer question 3 for every home. Can we honestly as believers say that we love our neighbors if we don't even know them? Why do we have rose colored glasses about foreign missions but when it comes to those nearest to us we have ruled them as impossible to win to Christ?
Preaching on this theme has already been very rewarding for me personally as well as I have received a lot of positive feedback about it.