Redeeming Conversations with your Neighbors

Matthew 22:35-39

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him.“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

We should love the Lord with all of our heart, soul and mind. We all nod our head and agree. But, “the second is like it”? Really?! Loving our neighbors is right up there with loving God. Wow. 

How do we love our neighbors? Let’s look at our method or way we are showing love and ask: does this require faith and God’s love or my raw effort and ability? Random acts of kindness do not need faith or dependence on God. Paying for the person’s Starbucks behind you anonymously without even a smile afterwards, while really, really nice doesn’t necessitate love on your part. If we are to show people the LOVE of Jesus that is transforming us they need to see His love not the kind of love anyone can conjure up by simply being human. Because let’s be honest, a person who has never even heard of God can nod and wave to his neighbor across the street while checking his mail. 

I believe one of the most loving things we can do for our neighbors ( (Your neighbor is your family, your co-workers, your actual neighbors, etc. This post isn’t exhausting the who is but a how to) is pray with them. Simply ask: If my God could meet a need in your life in the next 24 hours what would that be? I would love to pray for that. Pray right there with them, so they can hear you. 

I have been asking that question to at least one person a day for a few months now and have been turned down only twice. And, both of those times were a super amiable, “No, I need to think about that. No one has ever asked me that.” 

A few examples:

I’m in Panera and the lady was slicing my bagel:

Me: Thanks so much. I don’t even have to make myself breakfast this morning. Hey, if my God could meet a need for you, I would love to pray for that.

Lady: My mom is sick and I don’t know if she will get well. I don’t know if I believe in God but yeah, pray. 

Me: Honored to. I will keep my eyes open so you don’t get fired. 

I pray and she is crying. 

I’m in Target and the kid (read probably 21) helping me get a barstool is waiting with me while someone looks in the back:

Me: How was your Christmas?

Guy: Not good. I didn’t get anything. 

Me: Nothing? What about your family??

Guy: (sad shrugs)

Me: You don’t have to tell me anything. I’m just a woman that probably will not find a barstool in the right color. But, if my God could meet a need in your life, I would like to pray for that.

Guy: (sadder shrugs)

Me: Ok, I’m going to keep my eyes open so your manager won’t be freaked out.

I pray and he looks so thankful and broken.

Praying with people is loving the Lord your God with your mind. It is hard to feel superior to others when you’re looking at them as someone who needs Jesus and prayer. It is hard to feel jealous of someone who is desperately searching for the peace you already have. 

Praying with people is loving yourself. Matthew says to love your neighbor as yourself.  I feel Jesus’ love bubbling up deep within me when I am praying and He prays something through me that there is no way I could know. “God, please heal her of what she’s seen….God, please show her that you do see her this moment no matter what she’s thinking…” When I know God loves me enough to give me not only the identity of a seed sower, but the ability of a seed sower…I am reminded of His love for me. 

Praying with people is loving our neighbors. The most loving thing we can do is show our neighbors that God sees them, loves them, and is pursuing them. Follow up the prayer with: “Let me show you a picture that changed my life.” Show them the 3 circles and love them straight into a friendship with Jesus. 

I recently taught this as a lesson to a group of women in their 20s and 30s. I asked, “What is your main a-ha or take-away from today?” A 20 something immediately said, “I can do this!”

Yes and amen. It is not just that we should. It is that we get to and we can. What a privilege and joy to hand living water to a person dying of thirst. - Amy