1 John 3.8 says, “Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” The whole point of having the covenant is to make sure that our sincere good intentions and bright ideas actually translate into some real attempts to participate in the gospel. That doesn’t mean that you have to have it all figured out beforehand. In fact, it is better to get started trying to love others well and to commit to learning and growing along the way.
So the most important thing to say is this: Just try something. Something small. Something available. Do something small with great love, as Mother Teresa liked to say.
Try something. Commit to being a beginner. If it doesn’t work, try something else. Identify challenges, come up with new ideas. Shrug off ideas that didn’t work.
When it comes to ideas for what to do for the “Love Your Neighbor” week in your Restore Community, here is the main guideline: Build relationships. That’s the purpose. Choose an idea based on its likelihood to help in that effort.
And it’s okay to pick people you like, people you might want to be friends with. Remember that Persons of Peace will likely be people who are drawn to you, and you to them. Certainly we have to be mindful of our motivations–none of that refusing to love people who aren’t enough like me. But the other extreme would be failing to imagine meeting some incredible people who in a few years are some of my closest friends. Both extremes involve not seeing goodness and love and value in the people God is calling us to.
Okay, let’s try to get a little more specific with some ideas.
Take something you’re already doing, and build relationships.
No need to add a bunch of new stuff to your schedule so you can try to meet a bunch of new people. What are you already doing? Kids are on a soccer team? Why not host a sleepover? Take one of the other parents out for coffee. Do you have a hobby? Something you absolutely love to do? Put an ad in the paper and see if anyone else wants to get together and do that. Start with stuff you already do, stuff that is already life-giving. Then just make it your mission field.
Do something in your neighborhood.
What kind of a neighborhood would you love to live in? What would the relationships between neighbors be like? Well… what’s stopping you from doing that? People in our country have almost no idea of how to build community, but our human nature makes it absolutely essential. So be the person who starts the ball rolling. A common enemy will work wonders getting you connected. Maybe it’s a trash problem. Maybe it’s stray animals. Maybe it’s the zombie apocalypse. Get people to band together, then help them have so much fun getting to know each other that they begin to look for excuses to keep getting together.
For other ideas, go here:
Go somewhere and be a regular.
Pick a restaurant to eat at once a month. Attend a neighborhood meeting regularly. Join a book club or discussion group. Find a place where you can know and be known. Being a missionary is all about proximity. Get to a place where you can actually come in contact with other people. You don’t have to fill your life with stuff every day–pick something according to your relational capacity. As an introvert, my capacity for number of genuine, growing friendships is lower than you might expect. That just means I need to do the hard work of narrowing down my focus. I can’t pick 12 different “Love Your Neighbor” ideas that touch 12 different groups of people because I’ll never actually build relationships with any of those people. I need to pick an idea that will bring me into regular with the same small number of people. Narrow it down.
Throw a party.
Jesus partied. That’s a big part of the reason why his reputation suffered. It is interesting to note how many significant events and teachings come out of stories where Jesus was at a party. Skim the Gospels and see for yourself. People love to celebrate, so celebrate with them. Go to parties you’re invited to. Go to civic celebrations. Learn how to throw a great party. Throw parties for people no one else would throw parties for. Is a neighbor having a hard time? Get two other neighbors to join you in throwing a surprise party to honor that person for no reason or occasion at all–just because of who they are.
What ideas do you have? Share them in the comments!