I’m reading a very convicting book right now. It’s called The Art of Neighboring by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. It begins by asking the reader to play the following game:
Think about your eight closest neighbors. To do this just imagine a Tic-Tac-Toe game piece. Then put your house in the middle. Next think about the eight houses in the sounding boxes. (Need a visual? Click here).
Now try to answer the following questions about each of your closest neighbors.
1. What are the names of the people who live in the households represented by each of the other boxes?
2. What are some relevant facts about the people in each house? For example, where were they born? What is their job? What do they like to do?…etc.
3. What’s something personal you know about each person in each of the houses? For example, what are their dreams? Do they believe in God? What do they fear? Or some other meaningful bit of information that you could only know after a meaningful interaction with them.
Take your time…
Now, how did you do?
Yeah, my sheet was mostly blank too. Turns out we’re not alone. The authors of the book report the following:
- About 10 percent of people are able to name the names of all eight of their neighbors.
- Only about 3 percent of people can share any facts about their eight neighbors.
- And less than 1 percent of people know any personal information about their eight closest neighbors.
I’m not even in the 10 percent group.
Here’s the hard news (and the whole point of the book). Jesus said to love our neighbors. And there is no reason to believe that Jesus didn’t mean love our actual neighbors—people who physically live next door to us.
Which means if you’re like me, (you actually want to follow Jesus) then you need to make a change. So let’s do it together.
This summer let’s commit to praying for our eight closest neighbors. Let’s commit to building relationships with our neighbors. Let’s commit to learning something meaningful about our neighbors.
We all desire to see our neighbors have their lives transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news is, so does God. That’s why he led you to live where you live.
God has put us in our houses so that we can represent (and be ambassadors for) Jesus to our actual neighbors. God wants us to step out in faith and begin to pray for our neighbors so that we might get to know our neighbors. So that God might open a door for them to one day hear and respond to the gospel.
I’m not gonna lie, this makes me nervous. I’d much rather share the gospel with 100 strangers then the person living 100 feet from my door. But hey, if Jesus said “Love your neighbor” then I guess we ought to actually love our neighbors.
Who’s up for it?
To learn more about how you can love your neighbor join me this summer in reading the book, The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door
Or check out their website http://artofneighboring.com/
Or watch this video for a little inspiration: