First Impressions, Reflections of Glory: who's your neighbor?  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

I was sitting in my living room with some dear friends discussing marriage. There were a group of us husbands chattering about areas we're aware of God's work in our life around growing in the mind and life of Christ. MJ makes a profound confession:


We've talked about how we're supposed to love our wives independent of their performance in a love like that of Christs, based upon Ephesians 5...but this past week God has convicted me of a broader love issue: my neighbor. Take Bob at work - he's annoying, a poor employee, and generally makes my life miserable. For months I've wished nothing else than to see him removed from the team. Then it struck me...Bob is my neighbor. And if Bob is my neighbor, how am I doing at showing the love of Christ to HIM regardless of his business value to me? On a daily basis I now ask myself and God, 'show me how I can love Bob with Your love today.'

I'm certain we can all insert a different name in that confession from our workplace, school, neighborhood or even family.

Today I met with Gerry. A tall, tender-hearted, father of 2 young children whose wife of 23 years suddenly died last week of an acute disease. Clearly devastated, I asked what support he had - family, friends, church? Gerry bowed his head, and shed a little tear. You see, Gerry was black and his "best friend, love of my life, hard working wife" happened to be white.

Pastuh, we don't really have much in the way of support. See, my wife and I met at a Christian college some 24 years ago. She was the daughter of a nice, religious family. When her family found out she was dating a black fella, they threatened her. She loved me so much she risked everything else and married me. Her family said she was dead to them - didn't come to the wedding, didn't see their grandkids, didn't come to the funeral last week. Lotsa folks felt same way. We were regularly attacked, had our stuff destroyed and had to move around to escape people who got upset that we were different. Somehow it was okay to go to church real regular and all, yet show hate to us because my skin was darker...even my children were tainted because of me. My wife and I survived on a deep love for each other and for God these past years...not many other people have wanted to be a part of it. Now she's gone. So to your question, I'm not sure if we really do have any family out there.

My heart broke. I cried with him and lamented that the Bible tells us the same frustration has existed for thousands of years - even Paul had to remind people that there was no castes when it came to God's economy of love:

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ...Meanwhile we expectantly wait for a satisfying relationship with the Spirit. For in Christ, neither our most conscientious religion nor disregard of religion amounts to anything. What matters is something far more interior: faith expressed in love. [Galatians 3:28, 5:5-6 MSG]

What a litmus test of our life in Christ! What a prerequisite to testifying of any Gospel. What a reflection of glory (or flesh).

Here's a bold prayer I challenge each of you to: ask God each day this week to show you "who is my neighbor" and how "to show the love of the Father" to that person. Brace yourself - your neighbor may be funny looking, funny smelling, darn right annoying or worse!

This entry was posted at Monday, September 15, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

2 thoughts and responses

Have you ever had an engaging conversation with someone and wondered if the person was for real?

On the other hand, have you ever looked deep into someone's eyes and seen their soul?
Sometimes when your heart is right, you don't have to wonder. God bless.

September 15, 2008 at 9:58 PM

fearless love...what would we give up to possess fearless love?

September 16, 2008 at 8:08 AM

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