Why do we love our neighbours? Do we have ulterior motives? Or is our love genuine and unconditional. In order to explore this tension, we need to understand the connection between the the Great Commandment (to love our neighbour) and the Great Commission (to make disciples).
Once we've "broken the ice" and gotten to know our neighbour's names, then what next steps can we take to move deeper into relationship with them? Today we we explore some practical ways to move from "Acquaintances" to "Friends" as we seek to love our neighbours as ourselves.
This Sunday we were pleased to have our mayor, Vance Badawey, join us for a conversation about the state of Port Colborne (the good and the bad), and to share in some frank discussion about what churches and Christians can do to enhance our community through the practice of loving our neighbours. We also heard the heartfelt story of Pepe Nuziato. Pepe's story is not unique. Many people in our cities struggle to make ends meet and can easily "slip through the cracks". What can churches like ours do to best help people like Pepe? These aren't easy questions, but if we are to "love our neighbours as ourselves" then we must address them head on.
Today we examine two of the biggest barriers that keep us from Loving our Neighbours: Time and Fear.
First, Time: Our lives are busy! There are barely enough hours in a day to keep up with our present relationships and responsibilities? How are we supposed to make time for new relationships with our neighbours?
Second, Fear: One look at the daily news is enough to make us overprotective. How do I know if my neighbours are "safe"? Do I really want to know these people and expose my family to some possibly unhealthy situations?
Today we come to grips with the simple fact that if we are going to practice the greatest commandment, then we will have to make time, and overcome our fears.
"Love you neighbour as yourself." This command of Jesus has unfortunately often been relegated to bumper stickers and fridge magnets. Most Christians believe it is true: we should love our neighbours, but then we turn the command into a metaphor, and in order to justify ourselves we make up our own definition of who our neighbours are. We choose to love people who are similar to us, or people we enjoy being around.
On the other hand, we sometimes interpret "neighbour" to mean "the whole world", in which case it becomes such a vast task, that it overwhelms and we do nothing. "If you aim at everything, you'll hit nothing," the saying goes. But what if we actually took Jesus' command literally, and decided that Jesus really did want us to love those people who are right beside us, next door to us? Like the Good Samaritan who came to the rescue of the person right beside him, we too need look no further than our own neighbourhood for people love. Rather than delegate the job of caring for people to social agencies or government, Christians can literally change the world, and solve most of the social problems that plague us, simply by walking across the street, ringing the doorbell and showing Jesus' love to our neighbours. This week we begin a 5-week series on the Art of Neighbouring.
Canon Robert Hurkmans has been the minister at St. James and St. Brendan since 2006.