As the pastor started a sermon series called, “Won’t you be my neighbor?” I leaned over to my husband and whispered, “He’s probably using ‘”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” – My husband looked at me like I just gave away who won The Voice before we watched the finals on Hulu.
Great sermon, Pastor Troy. I got this. I’ve built my whole life on this verse. This is MY verse. I quote it, I sing it to my kids, and I live it – at least I think I do. I love people in far off lands (by supporting missionaries), I love people who are unlovable (like troubled teens), I love my student (all 20 years of them), I love my church family, I love people in recovery ministry, I love my friends, I love my family. I’ve got a pretty good check list going – if anyone wants to give me a gold star for loving others.
Then he had the audacity to tell us we needed to love our neighbors …. meaning our actual neighbors – the people who live in the houses next to us. I don’t even like my neighbor!
So, we were good “church-ittites” – we did what the pastor said and hung a paper on our front door with the names of our neighbors – with the goal of praying for them and reaching out to them in friendship and love.
I started praying for my neighbor – you know the one I don’t like. How am I supposed to love him? He doesn’t like us any better than we like him. We have built a really tall fence between us – a literal one because he hates our dog – and an emotional one from the hurt and anger we feel towards each other. How am I supposed to just walk over to his house and all the sudden show him love? I even started justifying that I don’t NEED to show him love, because my parents who live with us do. They’re friends. My parents can love him to Jesus.
Yesterday, Rose and I are getting into the car to go see Grandpa at the nursing home. The neighbors come out of the house at the same time. I say, ”Hi.” I’m asked how my parents are. So I tell them my dad just had open heart surgery, and I’m told in return that my neighbor has been very sick as well.
Today is cooking day (hold on – I’ll get to how this relates in a jiffy). Rose and I decide to make something special to take to grandpa. Grandpa loves pie. Grandpa is on a super strict diet, so we research sugar-free pies. We go to the grocery store to buy the ingredients.
Rose asks, “Can we make two?”
“Grandpa only needs one pie, Sweetie.”
“Yes, but we can take one to the neighbor – he’s sick too.”
Today we’re taking our pie to the neighbor. I’m praying God can use a little girl and a pie to tear down walls – I know He’s using them to tear down the one in my heart.