4 Key Steps to Loving Your Neighbors in an Isolated Culture
Jesus gives us the second greatest commandment in Mark 12:31, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” This command is commonly known as “The Golden Rule.” It is our second highest priority as Christians just under Christ’s command to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength in Mark 12:30.
These two commandments are related. Loving our neighbors comes from the overflow of our love for God and serves as a reflection of His love for people.
Loving our neighbors can be downright challenging in our culture where it is difficult to even get to know your neighbors. In 2019, Pew Research conducted a study where they found that 57% of Americans either don’t know any of their neighbors or just a couple of them. Chances are that the percentage has risen as this study was conducted before the Covid-19 epidemic and its aftermath.
How do you love your neighbors in our culture of isolation? Here are some key steps to follow.
1. Meet your neighbors.
It is hard to love someone you don’t know. Here are some practical ways to introduce yourself.
- Take a walk. To meet people outside of your home you need to get out of your home.
- Walk your dog or compliment someone else’s dog as they walk them. Talking about pets can be a great way to break the ice.
- Spend some time outside on your porch. Warmly greet your neighbors as they walk.
- Attend neighborhood events, festivals, or other gatherings.
- Join community groups or clubs in your community.
- Join social media groups, including NextDoor, specific groups on Facebook, etc. Warmly greet new members and weigh in on discussions as the Lord leads.
- If your work is flexible, take your laptop to a local coffee shop, library, or park and work from there.
2. Serve your neighbors.
When thinking of ways to love and serve your neighbors, the place to start is with the final two words of The Golden Rule, love them “as yourself.” This means treating them the way you would want to be treated.
If you were in their shoes, how would you want your neighbors to serve you? What would be helpful to you as a neighbor? Make a list, then go and do likewise.
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
- Welcome new neighbors to the neighborhood. Come prepared with a housewarming gift and a one-page list of recommended restaurants and service providers.
- Pick up trash and litter on your walk.
- Invite neighbors over for dinner.
- If you garden, share your produce.
- Set out treats and a water bowl out for dogs. Clean it regularly.
- Volunteer in your HOA.
- If you know someone is going out of town, offer to watch their house or pet.
- Offer a cold bottle of water to a neighbor working in their yard on a sweltering day.
- If you have a skill, let your neighbors know you can use it to help them.
- Share your contact information for emergencies.
- Maintain your own home and yard. You don’t want to be THAT neighbor who does not.
3. Pray for your neighbors.
This is one of the best ways to serve your neighbor, interceding for them to their Creator. Pray for your neighbors and with your neighbors.
When praying for your neighbors either in your prayer closet or on a prayer walk, ask the Lord for the following:
- Opportunities to meet and serve each neighbor.
- Boldness to initiate conversations and offer help.
- Creative ideas on how to connect or serve them.
- Insight on how to introduce the topics of spiritual things and the gospel into conversations.
- Salvation for your each neighbor as well as offering yourself to God for Him to use in the process.
Not only pray for your neighbors but offer to pray with them for specific needs or concerns. This is a terrific way to minister to them, let them know you care, and serve as a bridge to share how you came to know the Lord to Whom you are praying.
4. Share the gospel with your neighbors.
The best way to love our neighbors is to share with them how to know their Creator. Here are some things to remember as you prepare to share:
- Prepare for a conversation. Sharing Christ with your neighbor happens best through a dialog, not a monologue.
- Introduce the topic of spiritual things before you introduce the gospel. This will make the transition smoother and allow you to learn about their background and beliefs. One of the easiest questions to ask is, “Are you interested in spiritual things?”
- Keep the focus on Jesus. Avoid secondary issues, if possible, like politics and church drama.
- Be sure to not only tell them what you believe, but why you believe it.
- Know that you may not get through your entire presentation of the gospel in a conversation or even multiple conversations. In fact, you may not get past “There is a God.” Therefore, focus on moving them one step closer to God through your love, example, and words.
- If they refuse to talk about spiritual things, have an objection, or seem indifferent, make it your goal to keep the relationship going. A closed door now may turn into an open door
When you think of The Great Commission, don’t commit a great omission by overlooking those who live near you. Join God in His harvest that is going on right in your own neighborhood and avail yourself to Him to use in the lives of your neighbors.
PO Box 703929
Dallas, TX 75370-3929