To live life with your neighbors, then you will never leave your house. I am amazed by how many Christians tell me they don’t know their neighbors. A lot of these Christians are pastors and leaders in the church.
I admit there was a time in my life I was the same way. I cocooned with the best of them. Turn onto my street, hit the garage door opener, pull into the garage, and have the door on it’s way down before getting out of my car.
I had the “friendly neighbor nod” down to an art. That tells them that I am nice and they can trust me to not complain about them to the neighborhood association.
Several years ago I decided that needed to change.
The change was a simple one. Instead of hiding out in my house, I began walking across the street or next door whenever I saw a neighbor outside. Even if it was only a 10 second conversation, at least I connected with them.
At first our conversations revolved around small talk—weather, sports, kids, pets—nothing too deep. Now years later, I not only know many of my neighbors, but consider them friends.
I know most of their kid’s names, even members of their extended families. We have celebrated new births, birthdays, and accomplishments together. We have leaned on one another during tough times like the loss of loved-ones or jobs, or the struggle of raising children.
More and more we live life together.
More than once I have had the conversation with one of my neighbors about “how good we have it” to have such great neighbors. This is true. I am blessed that I left my house to become friends with my neighbors.
So why do so many of my “christian” friends shy away from knowing their neighbors?
I realize that cocooning is not reserved for just Christians. It is way too common in our neighborhoods and communities. But here are a few reasons that I think some don’t know their neighbors:
- Afraid of differences. Really. We all tend to gravitate toward those who think like we do, believe what we believe, have what we have. And we don’t spend much time with those who are different—either by choice or subconsciously.
- Agenda driven relationships. This one really gets me. But it’s true. The only reason some of my christian friends talk to their neighbors is because they have an agenda. Either they feel obligated or motivated to befriend their neighbors so that they can evangelize them. If their neighbor rejects the Good News, then what do they do? Really awkward. Yes, I want my neighbors—my friends—to know Jesus Christ personally. But if they choose not to know Him, I don’t reject them.
- Ashamed of imperfections. We have lived in our current home for close to 15 years. About 11 years ago I was separated from my wife. Several of our current neighbors lived here then. They knew we were separated. But, they have seen our marriage reconcile and strengthen. We don’t hide our failures. By allowing our neighbors to know us God can get the glory for the good things He does in our lives.
- Too busy. Probably the number one reason people don’t get to know their neighbors. We don’t live life with enough margin to let other’s into our lives.
- Lack of compassion. Ouch. That hurts to admit. But probably true. We take time to know those we care about.
Thank God He cared enough about us to leave His house so we can know Him.
I would love to hear some ways you live life with your neighbors.