We’re new in our neighborhood, and as neighborhoods go, it’s pretty quiet. The neighbors aren’t mean, just silent and to themselves. They’ll wave at you, but they won’t take any initiative to come say hello. I’ve been praying about opportunities to actually get to know our neighbors.
I really do have a desire to reach out, but knocking on doors cold turkey is more than a little frightening. My youngest has been driving the push to take something, anything to the neighbors. Not me. With her pushing, I made cookies last month, but decided against it when they didn’t really taste all that great. Finally, I couldn’t put her off any more (going to meet neighbors is spiritual, you know). We made caramel to take to the neighbors. Don’t think I’m bragging, here. I used some cute Thanksgiving bags I’ve had with good intentions for four years.
I knew I wasn’t going to have enough courage to do this by myself and the kids, so I got Lee to help. After we had gone to a couple of houses, I noticed David hanging back.
“Are you embarrassed to be delivering caramels?”
Then we had a short talk about how our family is diverse, and we help each other. In this case, one family member was bolder than the others (or at least showed the greatest initiative, when everyone else wouldn’t have made visiting neighbors a high priority), and that made our whole family stronger.
The real point is that the church works the same way. We don’t all have the same strengths and weaknesses. We all reach out with the gospel in different ways. My son’s reluctance to knock on doors didn’t mean he’s not interested in loving people with the gospel. On the other hand, sometimes we need people who are stronger to challenge us where we are weak. Some of my best friends are Type-A, super-organized people. Their strength in spreadsheets and organization challenges me to be more faithful in using my time wisely. We all benefit when we refuse to use ourselves as the reference point for Christlikeness and correct application of Scripture.
The body of Christ helps us, not just to challenge our obedience, but also to supply gaps in understanding. My experience as an adult who grew up in a Christian home is different from my friend who didn’t. She knows what it’s like for all of the Bible to be new and exciting; I don’t. She understands the perspective of an adult who does not fear God. On the other hand, I don’t often struggle to trust in a loving Heavenly Father. Gospel-centered thinking is as natural as breathing. We both benefit from having different points of view. Paul’s metaphor of the body is worth thinking about much more deeply than we
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all….
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into[c] one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not one member but many.
15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? 18 But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. 19 And if they were all one member, where would the body be?
20 But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. 21 And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. 23 And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, 24 but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, 25 that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. 26 And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7; 12-25