By Rev. Jake Clawson, Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church of Flower Mound
When Jesus summed up the Greatest Commandment by telling us to love God with all our resources – heart, mind, soul, strength – and to love our neighbor as ourselves, what if he meant our actual neighbors? You know, the person who lives next to you.
Trinity Presbyterian Church, along with Creekwood Christian Church and Faith Lutheran Church – all of us neighbors in Flower Mound – have embarked on a month’s long journey to investigate what it might mean to make space in our lives to love our real-life neighbors.
As a guide on this journey, Trinity is using The Art of Neighboring, a book by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon. Already, it’s been interesting to see just how contextual the task of neighboring is and the hurdles that are before us. Just think for a minute of the proliferation of rear entry homes, the 27-foot-razor-wire-gilded-privacy fences, and the summer (and fall?) skin-melting temps in our area. Given the hurdles, this series has given us an opportunity to make the task before us simpler.
Want to love your neighbor? Learn their name. Here’s a challenge. Draw a tic-tac-toe grid on a piece of paper and put your home in the middle. Think of the eight houses nearest you, and write down the names of the people in those houses, along with any personal information you can think of about them. It’s an enlightening (and sobering!) exercise. Jay and Dave call this “The Chart of Shame”!
My encouragement is this: Learn one person’s name this week. You never know what might happen if you take that first step, but one thing is sure. You’ll be one step closer to knowing how you can love your neighbor, and Jesus insisted that was the most important thing you could do. Grace and peace.
The Pastor’s Place features columns written by a different area church leader each month. Call 940-728-8284 for more information.