In chapter three of the book of Isaiah, we read about the “Judgement on Jerusalem and Judah,” and verse five is where I want to take us. “People will oppress each other—man against man, neighbor against neighbor. The young will rise up against the old, the nobody against the honored.” This reading sounds like some pretty scary stuff and not what I think of when we talk about being good neighbors. Isaiah saw trouble coming and tried to warn the people. May this scripture and article offer some guidance for today.
Since arriving at Marble, I have used the term neighbor a lot. One mistake I have made is taking for granted that everyone knows what "neighbor" means. I want to take some time to discuss what it means to be a neighbor, specifically a good neighbor. Hopefully, this conversation will guide us moving on as a Christian community at Marble.
While reading an article titled How to Be a Good Neighbor, I quickly noted this statement. "Being a good neighbor is essential to being part of a community. When you make an effort to be the best neighbor you can, those living near you are more likely to reciprocate." This quote seems like a straightforward approach to being someone's neighbor and also being a good one.
The next thing that got my attention was how the article addresses how a good neighbor can help us personally. First, it allows us to work toward a safer community, create a friendlier community, and have more fun in our community. Next, we can meet new people, make new friends, and have people to support and help us. Finally, being a good neighbor will enrich our lives and the lives of our neighbors and let us learn more about our community and the area around us.
Now, while reading this, you might be thinking to yourself these are simple ideas. Maybe you might consider these unique Christian perspectives. The funny thing about the article I read and the information I am sharing is from a construction and real estate company. Yet, if you re-read this piece, you will see how easily these ideas apply to the church.
Here are some steps from the article you can take—and avoid—to be a good neighbor. I will be adding some thoughts on how we can apply them to our Christian community.
1. Know the rules of your community.
- There are guidelines we follow as United Methodist, but not all of our neighbors know them. Please do not assume they do and offer to provide answers when they look unsure.
2. Introduce yourself.
- Be hospitable and introduce yourself to our new neighbors. Do not expect someone to say hello to a group of people unknown to them.
3. Be mindful of noise.
- Sometimes it is not easy to hear what is going on in service. Be aware of the distraction you might be causing for someone near you.
4. Maintain the outside of your home.
- We must care for God's House on the outside as much as we do on the inside. Would you stop at Marble if it did not look attractive on the outside?
5. Keep a lookout.
- We do not stop with just introducing ourselves. We have to keep an eye out for our new neighbors when they could use our help with anything. Maybe offer to let them sit with you if they look uncomfortable.
6. Respect Space.
- Understand that not everyone is where you are at with comfort levels. What you like, our new neighbor may not. Respect and protect.
7. Practice the golden rule.
- Think about when you go somewhere and the expectations you have upon arriving. Now, put yourself in the other person's shoes. You are serving our neighbors, and they have expectations when coming to a church, too.
8. Behave on social media.
- Think before you type and hit share. We want to create allies, not enemies, with our thoughts and words for the whole world to see. People check us out online and use that to decide if they will come to our neighborhood.
- Not just with the people we know, but everyone we come in contact with weekly. Things will be a lot easier for our new neighbors to understand if we talk with them, instead of figuring it out for themselves.
10. Listen to your neighbors.
- We do not know everything, and there will be times we can learn from our neighbors. Learning will only occur when we listen to what they have to say. Think of this as praying. If we do all the talking, then how can we hear God's response?
I offer these insights as food for thought and a different perspective. We have people at Marble that are already practicing some of these steps. The goal is for all of us to practice all of these steps. We have a beautiful Christian community here, and we want to keep working at making it better all the time. Our mission is to create more disciples, and our vision is to invite people who, in turn, are living the love of Christ. So, go back and re-read those steps and see how we can serve our neighbors better.
Peace be with you, neighbor!