This was published as the Inspiration Corner in the Leader News on Tuesday Sept. 24.
At the beginning of his iconic show, Fred Rogers would invite millions of viewers to be his neighbour, to share life together. Living in small town, that’s what we’re invited to do with each other and that’s how Jesus has told us to live. After loving God, the most important thing we can do is to “Love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:39).
Those are challenging words to live by, especially when you have to deal with people you’d rather avoid (Jesus identifies your neighbour as anyone you come in contact with.). It would be far easier to write off the difficult person or have nothing to do with them but that discredits them as a person made and loved by God. So, how do we take the difficult steps to love our neighbours (which is such an important practice in small town because we have to live and work with each other!)?
Here’s a few of my thoughts:
Think Less of Yourself/More Highly of Others:
In a world of carefully cultivated Instagram photos we can have a distorted sense of reality and ourselves. This goes against all modern ideals of rights and freedoms but consider laying down some of your rights for the betterment of your neighbours. Isn’t it better if we all have an opportunity to thrive instead of just a few of us? When you stop looking down on people, suddenly those around you aren’t less than you but are equal to you; they may look, live, and act different from you but we all have been made and loved by God.
Be Generous in Forgiving:
This is a very hard thing to do especially when you’ve been deeply hurt or wronged. But Christians in particular (and all people) have the example of Jesus who freely offers forgiveness even when we don’t deserve it. One piece of advice that I was given a long time ago is that you don’t know what another person has gone or is going through. It is helpful to be more forgiving when you realize how hurt and broken another person might be. Forgiving though, doesn’t mean you let someone walk all over you. Instead of wanting to get even let some of the petty things pass.
We are more connected than ever through smart phones and gadgets but we have forgotten how to talk with each other. We send gifs and emojis but can’t carry on a conversation. Perhaps it’s time we learn to talk with each other again; to share what’s frustrating, hurtful, good, or helpful about another person’s actions toward you. For us conflict averse people, it is hard to talk about what’s bothering us but it is important for a healthy relationship.
There are many more ways that we can work together to love each other and seek the good in each other. We need to support each other for the benefit of this community. What are you doing to be a better neighbour, co-worker, and friend? I’d love to hear from you!
Pastor J-M shares some occasional thoughts and musings on our life together as followers of Christ. The views are his own.