"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:14
Last year I took a Bible Study at my church that completely changed my perspective. It changed the way I look at others, my role in my community and the purpose God has given me as I continue walking day after day according to His will.
You've heard this verse a thousand times - and even non-believers hold it to be true and teach it to their children; even the schools teach it.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
It sounds great in theory, right?
But what if Paul meant your ACTUAL neighbor here? What if he quite literally meant that we are to love those who are physically next to us? What if he was intending for us to love everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis?
In our Sunday School class the last month we've started an initiative of getting in our communities and making a difference. How can we serve, love and reach out to our neighbor? How can we build relationships with those around us in such a way that opportunities to present the gospel will naturally occur?
We all know those people on the street corner with the megaphone shouting that everyone is going to hell. We don't want to be that person, right, nor does God tell us to be.
But what if we can share the gospel one house at a time?
One neighbor at a time.
I have a hard time thinking that once someone rejected Jesus, he just walked away and never thought of them again. He went TO them, he served them and taught them. He ate with them, he built relationships with them.
HE EARNED THE RIGHT TO SHARE HIS GOSPEL WITH THEM.
That's what we need to do. We need to demonstrate the love of Jesus before we tell about it, right? Because unfortunately there are too many people in this world who have been completely burnt by the church, right? There are too many people who have a distorted view of Jesus and his love because they have seen and heard people doing things "in the name of Jesus" that are the complete opposite of what love looks like.
It's devastating, but unfortunately it's the world we live in.
Our neighbors - all unbelievers - need to see, experience, feel, taste the TRUE grace and mercy of Jesus. They need to understand that everyone can come to the throne and that whether or not they choose Jesus, we can still choose to love them.
We can love our neighbors without trying to change them, their religion or their political point of view. We can love them in spite of it, just like they can love us in spite of ours!
So I want to challenge you with something.
I want you to bake this pumpkin bread in five mini foil loaf pans found in the grocery store. I then want you to go knock on the doors of five of your neighbors - just to say hi and maybe happy fall. I want you to talk to them like you would talk to a friend. No matter what they may complain about, how you might be recieved (or rejected) , I want you to smile graciously and let them know that you care.
Because everyone wants to be be cared for, right?
This very small interaction can be the difference between life and death. This very small token can be the beginning of many beautiful relationships. This very simple gesture could just be a pathway for the gospel.
Let's circle back here and share stories of the relationships we are building in our neighborhoods next month! Okay? Okay.
Now, get after it!
DIXIE'S CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD
3 cups sugar
16 oz can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 cup canola oil
1/2 cup water
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp nutmeg
4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 pkg 12 oz chocolate chips
Combine first five ingredients, mix well.
Add remaining ingredients except chocolate chips and mix well again.
Gently fold in chocolate chips.
Grease five small foil pans (available at the grocery store where the foil pans are). Fill 2/3 full and bake at 350 for 45 minutes - 1 hour. Insert toothpick in the middle of one of the loaves, when it comes out clean (besides melted chocolate), they're ready to go.