This is the second post in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. The first post in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.
Chapter 2 answers the question with…‘My Neighbor Needs Help’. Churches spend a lot of time teaching us how to love God, but many take little time on how to be a good neighbor. This series challenges me to love my neighbor in a different way. I thought I was pretty good at it…and you know what, I’m not bad. I can just improve on it. Helping those who need our help naturally follows those who are hurting.
Wayne Gordon writes:
On the surface, helping others seems like a very simple concept. It’s not. Of course, if all we mean by helping others is opening the door for someone whose hands are full, that’s one thing. But it’s another thing if helping means that we have to get involved in another persons’ life, as the Good Samaritan did.
Getting “involved in another person’s life” requires a total change in lifestyle and the way we prioritize, not just throwing money at it. I started small years ago. As a youth leader at a large church in the West End, I went on youth choir tour. These tours took us into inner-cities up and down the east coast. It even took us into the local federal prisons. Who knew that a few years later, I’d be called to move into the inner city of Richmond living a short 1/2 mile from the largest public housing complex between Baltimore and Atlanta? God did. When I moved to SBH 7 years ago, I started small. I made time to hang out with the kids…loving on them. Giving their parents a break because they knew their children were some place safe. This changed my lifestyle and I had to prioritize differently. I used to go out a lot with friends…to the movies, dinner, etc. I used to travel to visit friends who lived out of town. I didn’t do that as often. My “church” activities even lessened. I couldn’t be a true part of the community if I continued to live outside of the neighborhood. Now, I’m completely immersed in my neighborhood. But, living this kind of life should come with a warning label. It hurts. It hurts a lot. Monday, I posted Heart Breaking. Soul Weeping. Head Reeling. Knees Bending on Miss Marti’s House, the blog we now use to share what’s going on with us (Louis and me) personally. This is an example of how it can hurt….a lot. When you invest yourselves in the life of another…their pain becomes your own.
To some of us, we have been gifted by God in the area of ‘helps’, and assisting others comes very naturally. To others, this is a pretty frightening thing to do. Getting involved. Developing relationships. Hanging in for a season of time versus a hit-and-run help. Gordon suggests that you start off small. And so do I!!! Similar to running a marathon. You can’t expect to jump up one day and run 26+ miles without training. So, you may start off signing up for a 5k. Then, work your way up to a half marathon. You can do this with helping others. Gordon suggests that you start small by remaining…
aware of and open to the opportunities we have to help those who cross our paths unexpectedly. The Good Samaritan probably did not wake up in the morning expecting to come across someone who needed his help. But when the opportunity presented itself, he embraced it.
You can help in unexpected times or in a planned response. To name a few, it requires…
- slowing down and paying attention to what is going on around you
- observing the routines of the people around you and questioning when there is a change
- leaving room to see the need and respond
- foregoing the dinner or movie with friends you intended to make or catching a later train, flight, etc.
- running errands or cooking a meal for a family with a new baby
- cutting grass for the elderly widow down the street
- fixing the car or porch railing for someone who can’t afford to or just doesn’t know how
- waking early to give a neighborhood youth a ride to school when he misses the bus
- speaking out for those who don’t have a voice…the poor, the orphan, the widow, the immigrant, etc.
- relocating into an under-resourced community and participating in redistribution and reconciliation (read more at CCDA)
There are so many ways we can help those who need us. And so many people who can help us when we are need.
Lord, you are our refuge and our strength, our ever-present help in times of trouble (Ps 46:1). Teach us how to recognize people who need our help and show us how we can help them. We are so busy running here and there…often busy doing church stuff…good stuff… that we often forget to BE the church. Teach us how to prioritize. Teach us to love others as ourselves, as you have commanded us. It doesn’t come naturally to us, but I pray that you will show us how. Lord, I also pray that you will teach us how to ask for help when needed and how to accept help when offered. That’s really hard for many of us. May our acts of helps and kindness bring glory to your Name. In the precious name of our brother, Jesus Christ. Amen.