Karah Han is a 16 year old (10th grader) who enjoys competing in speech and debate tournaments for home school youth. Karah recently gave a persuasive speech titled “The Art of Neighboring” inspired by Lynn Cory’s book, “Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God.” Dai Sup (Father)
Karah Han MHQ 2015 Persuasive
December 28, 2015
The Art of Neighboring
When I was 6 years old, we picked up trash in a soccer field in Thailand. We were on a missions trip and started it all off with helping our temporary neighbors out. After cleaning up the grassy expanse, we invited the neighbors over in the evening. One person was affected more than we could imagine.
In America, a woman was happily engaged – until she got the phone call. Her fiancé had been with someone else for over eight months. She was hopeful – until her family rejected her for moving away to America. She was alone – no one had befriended her in her new apartment. And nobody would care if she was gone.
Meanwhile, Mary Alice invited her neighbors over for a party. A stereotypical Fourth of July party, with fireworks and a barbeque. But the night wouldn’t end like normal parties do. There would be a life changed, a life saved.
These three stories all tie together with one common theme: neighbors. Neighbors who helped and neighbors who were helped. A lot of times, we tend to ignore the people right next door. But the relationships we make with the people on our block can make all the difference. Not just here and now, but for eternity. I strongly challenge you to recognize the needs your neighbors have and do something about those needs. This will bless your neighbors immensely by showing them the love of God.
First, I’ll be sharing with you some important ideas regarding who our neighbors are and what neighboring is all about. Then, I’ll be establishing why all of this is so important and what the motivation should be behind your loving your neighbors. Finally, I’ll present what we can do to have a massive impact in our neighborhoods. Who our neighbors are, why we should care, and what we can do. WHO, WHY, and WHAT.
So who are our neighbors? The Sunday school example of being a good neighbor is a story told by Jesus, in Luke 10 (Biblegateway.com Luke 10). You may be familiar with this story of The Good Samaritan. Basically, a Jewish guy got beat up and robbed. The people that you would think help the man, didn’t. Surprisingly, a man who was an enemy of the Jews helped him. That unexpected person was the man’s neighbor. Jesus uses this story to stress the fact that we are called to love all people, not just the people next door. But what about the people next door? Although everyone is our neighbor, as Jesus mentions, we need to start loving our neighbors by loving our literal neighbors. And our mission team did just that in Thailand. One person came up to us and said that the only reason why he was interested in Jesus was because we did something no one would ever do for him, or that he would do for himself. Thankfully, he accepted Jesus Christ and was never the same after that. By showing our neighbors that we love them, they will be more open to the fact that God loves them, too. Now that we’ve determined who our neighbors are, let’s take a look at what “loving” means. In this case, to love someone is to willingly sacrifice your own wants and interests for another person. This is particularly hard to do if you don’t happen to like your neighbors to begin with. Jesus didn’t say, “Love the neighbors who give you cookies as yourself.” He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” meaning ALL neighbors (Biblegateway.com Mark 12:30-31). In Mark 2:17, Jesus mentions that, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Biblegateway.com Mark 2:17). Since we are Christians, or “Jesus followers”, we need to have this same mindset.
Mark 12:30-31, reminds us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Biblegateway.com Mark 12:30-31). These verses mean that the two most important things that we need to do is love God and love people. In fact, loving people is one of the ways to love God!
So let’s explore more deeply the motivation behind loving our neighbors: the why.
Obviously, there are so many people who need the love of God. It is literally impossible for one person to do all that work. But if everyone in the church took the responsibility to love the people who live right next to them, think of the impact this would have. It’s efficient and effective. Lynn Cory, in his book Neighborhood Initiative and the Love, explains that this is the way people harvest and farm (Cory 59). They break up the area of land and everyone does their part. This principle applies to neighboring as well. Luke 10:2, referring to unsaved people, says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (Biblegateway.cm Luke 10:2). The harvest field is right here in your neighborhood and you are the worker. Take responsibility of your neighborhood.
Romans 12:1 says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship” (Biblegateway.com Romans 12:1). In order to be a living gift for God, we must show others how we and God care for them. By showing our literal neighbors the love of God, we can reach out and fulfil the purpose of life: to know God and to make him known.
In fact, Jesus commanded his followers (including us) to “go and preach the good news”, the news that God loves everyone and desires everyone to choose a relationship with him. According to Gotquestions.org, a Christian apologetics website, the literal meaning of this phrase is, “as you go, preach the good news” (Gotquestions.org). Although you can go to Africa to fulfill the great commission, you don’t have to. You can do it as you are going. This is the second reason why loving our neighbors is important: it fulfils our purpose.
But what happens if we don’t love our neighbors? In Lynn Cory’s book, one woman tells the story of what almost happened, until her neighbor stepped in (Cory 40). We don’t know this woman’s name, so we’ll just call her Hazel. She was from Iran so she didn’t have any friends or family in her city. And when that phone call came from her fiancé, she immediately turned to the little family she had back in Iran. But they refused to support her because she had moved away from them. Her last hope had evaporated. She ventured out to the drug store on Fourth of July to pick up the last of the over the counter medicine she needed to commit suicide. But as she was walking up to her room, a woman stopped her and told her about a barbeque party downstairs. Would she like to come? Of course not. Hazel had business to take care of. But the woman kept insisting so much that Hazel realized she really meant it. Unknowingly, that woman saved Hazel’s life. Someone did care. Someone told her she mattered. That someone was Hazel’s neighbor. Although it is quite incredible how that neighbor showed love to Hazel and prevented her suicide, think of how many people could’ve been a good neighbor to Hazel – but weren’t. None of her apartment neighbors asked her how she was doing. Even her own family didn’t want to associated with her. But one person cared and that is what mattered. You can be that one person to someone in need. Building relationships is another huge reason to love your neighbors.
Now that we’ve determined who our neighbors are, and why it’s so important to love them, I’ll be showing you some ways you can practically love your neighbor: what. Like Hazel’s new friend did, you can invite a neighbor or two (or more) to a gathering you’re already having. For example, we invited our neighbors over for dessert and tea. Since it wasn’t a full meal, we didn’t have to spend much time prepping. We got to know our neighbors much better than on our front lawn, plus we got to eat delicious muffins. What’s not to like, right?
You can also make more of an effort to take walks outside. This is a great way to run into your neighbors (figuratively, of course) and get exercise while you’re at it. Another aspect of walking is prayer. As you walk by the houses, you can pray for the people who live there and the needs they have. Make a list of the people on your block and a couple things that you know they might need. Pray for those needs and do something about them.
Lynn Cory also mentions the story of Mary Alice, who had planned a full-on Fourth of July celebration (Cory 40). She meaningfully got together a group of neighbors, some of whom didn’t know each other. But during the party, she had to go up to her apartment to grab something. On the way, she bumped into a neighbor who didn’t come to the party. She invited the woman to come, but she declined. Finally, the woman gave in and decided to come. They talked and ate and watched fireworks. While walking back up to their apartments, the women’s conversation took an unexpected turn. The woman confessed that she was going to commit suicide that evening. She felt like nobody would care if she was gone. But, Mary Alice remarked, “She told me that the simple act of kindness that I showed her made her realize that someone did indeed care.” (Cory 41). Loving your neighbors doesn’t have to be hard. It’s quite simple, actually. But when it’s hard love someone, keep in mind the words of C. S. Lewis: “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.” (Lewis)
So today, we’ve looked at WHO our neighbors are, WHY we should love them, and WHAT we can do to love them. Our neighbors are anyone. But we need to focus on our physical neighborhood because it’s simple and we can show them the love of God in a more personal way. Some ways to do that are by inviting neighbors over, chatting with them, and praying for them.
Hazel realized her life mattered only because a neighbor invited her to a party. And Mary Alice showed Hazel the love of God. By doing something simple, like picking up trash, my family and our missions team showed our neighbors what God’s love is like: it’s sacrificial and selfless.
When it seems as if someone else can help your neighbors, or you’re not the best to do it, keep in mind that the only Bible your neighbors may ever read is you.
“BibleGateway.” Luke 10 NIV. Bible Gateway, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.
“BibleGateway.” Mark 2:17 NIV. Bible Gateway, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.
“BibleGateway.” Mark 12:30-31 NIV. Bible Gateway, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.
“BibleGateway.” Romans 12:1 NIV. Bible Gateway, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.
Cory, Lynn. Neighborhood Initiative and the Love of God. N.p.: n.p., 2013. Print.
Lewis, C. S. Mere Christianity. London: n.p., 1952. Print.
“What Is the Great Commission?” GotQuestions.org. Got Questions Ministries, n.d. Web. 28 Dec. 2015.