COLUMN: Make it a point to love your neighbor

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By Jon Rohr

Do you know your neighbors? I don’t mean just to speak to; I mean do you know them? Do you know their struggles, the challenges they face, the burdens they bear? I bet you know more about them than you think.
For example, I grew up in a suburb of Baltimore. Across the street was an older couple who had no kids of their own. Next to them lived a police officer and his young bride and new baby. Our next door neighbors were from Great Britain. He taught high school and one day found his Volkswagen placed on his porch by some prankish kids.
Just that little description tells us a lot. For example, that elderly couple might have worried about their future without any children around. Their neighbors were coping with a new baby and I wonder if that officer’s wife ever worried about him. Our British neighbors often talked about missing their homes in London. Each of our neighbors has needs and heartaches, hopes and fears.
Your neighbors are probably a little different than mine, but I bet you know some young families, or some older couples, maybe an elderly man or woman living alone. You can probably imagine their struggles and challenges. You’ve probably faced some of them yourself.
The Bible tells us to be good neighbors, but how? Let’s face it, unless you are Bill Gates, you probably don’t have enough money to make a huge difference. And unless you are Betty Crocker, you probably can’t cook enough to ease everyone’s burdens.
But, we as believers have access to more than Bill Gates ever imagined. We have a loving father who cares and asks us to pray for our neighbors. Paul says, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1 NIV).
First of all, pray. Call upon the maker of the universe to make a difference in your neighborhood, in your community, for your friends.
This week take a little extra time to notice your neighbors. Pray for what you see, pray for what only the Lord can see. Pray for that young family and for their sometimes-noisy kids. Pray for the lonely and the worn out. Take a little of your time to love your neighbors, after all, Jesus gave his life showing his love for us.