How Do I (Best) Love my Neighbor?

"One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
-Mark 12:28-31

This is a question that has come to the forefront of my mind in the past months of life in Eucalyptus. I remember the first weeks in the neighborhood being an introductory honeymoon period… Kris and I were the new kids on the block. Starting out, I think we were happy just to seek out acceptance from the neighborhood kids that came by our place on Wednesday nights for a church sponsored meal. In a new place with a new culture, it was quite the adjustment, but exactly what I signed up for.  I have long felt a conviction to learn what it means to love my neighbors next door and the Fellows program finally left me out of excuses. Over the course of these first three months, it has been a journey as these new relationships are being built and grown.  

It has been a crash course in learning about myself, and how to best use my understanding of self in relationship to my neighbors. It has also confronted me with the depth of our depravity and our great need for God’s restoration. As I have gotten to know the stories of my neighbors and have spent more time with the Wednesday kids, I have hurt with and for them and the ever-present brokenness in our community and all of us. Brokenness of; crumbling families, harmful relationships, over-sexualization by the media, and the abuse of various drugs. There have been days that have been full of joy and hope, and day that have felt empty and near hopeless, and I feel at a loss for how to help or what next steps to take.  But if I believe the gospel to be true, I can have faith that God has been longing since the fall to restore rightness in these relationships, and is already working to redeem and reconcile this brokenness, it’s our job as Christians to get involved and to love well. Seems simple right? Loving is so hard, and love hurts. Loving well takes wisdom and perspective, wisdom and perspective that we as humans cannot possess on our own. Pray along with us as we seek God’s wisdom and direction, as we live in community with our neighbors, doing our best to love, continually longing for His redemption and healing to come right here amongst us.

-Rob VerWys, Community Fellow