This is part 2 of what I wrote yesterday. If you haven’t read part one yet, I would encourage you to read that first. In fact, before reading part one, you may want to read “Daily Relationships With Purpose" and "Growing in the Kingdom of God" for a little background…
“…better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away” (Proverbs 27:10).
A dear Christian brother or sister who lives far away is sometimes less valuable than a next-door neighbor who isn’t even a believer. It’s true if your car breaks down, if you need to borrow a shovel, or if you need a couple eggs to complete a recipe. It’s also true in a multitude of other ways.
The believers in our fellowship have deliberately positioned themselves to be more valuable to each other by deciding to live close to each other. For some that meant selling their home and moving. For others it meant renting a place closer to other believers. Rather than a 15 or 20 minute drive separating us, we would much rather have a one and a half minute walk! (I would like to write a post for this blog soon to get my thoughts down about how God worked in my heart personally in deciding to move closer to believers, but I’ll save that for later.)
Again in response to an inquiry about how daily life relationships leads to building up believers in love and in faith, I’ll share the following examples. These examples are taken from the last three or four weeks. Some may be more profound than others....maybe you won't think any are "profound". :-) There are many more in addition to these, but I think you’ll get the picture… So, in the last three or four weeks…
In the past days and weeks believers have shown up at my door to borrow shovels, rakes, a wheelbarrow, and some other things that I can’t remember. How is that “spiritual”? Well, whenever two or three believers who are dedicated to conforming to Christ and helping each other conform to Christ…whenever such people can see each other or interact it is a great opportunity to share a Scripture, a thought, or a prayer… or even just share a shovel. Random acts of kindness have been known to increase love between people. When Jesus says to “love one another” and that “all men will know you are my disciples when they see you love each other” he was referring to everyday life. I don’t think he was meaning that unbelievers would say, “wow, look at how those Christians love each other by going to that building together every week!” So, as we look to increase in love for each other and to show the world, random acts of kindness toward one another is a big deal.
About a week ago, a neighbor who is not a part of our church called and asked if she could borrow some vanilla. We (the believers here) were right in the middle of sharing life together. My wife was attending to one of our children and I was in the middle of a conversation with a couple of brothers. A sister in the Lord was available and she brought the vanilla over to the neighbor’s house. What did this plant in the mind of my neighbor? It was unexpected that someone other than a member of my “family” would bring the vanilla over…but maybe it will help reveal what Spiritual Family is all about.
A couple weeks ago, a brother borrowed my car. (It was very handy since he lives a block and a half away!) He noticed that my oil needed to be changed probably because he saw the little reminder sticker that the oil change place put on the upper left corner of my window. He brought the car back with an oil change and some information about something that the mechanic said could be wrong. Another bonding experience from an “everyday” situation. It was more bonding that sitting in a church pew and looking at him across the room. :-) Other times, my car has been returned having been professionally vacuumed!
In the last few weeks several people have needed to use our washing machine for various reasons. These were great opportunities to share and also to be “inconvenienced” in a very minor way, learning to put others before ourselves.
One day our neighbors stopped by. (Different neighbors than those I mentioned earlier, but they aren’t a part of our church either.) When they showed up, someone from our church was just leaving. We talked with them for a few minutes and in walked a couple from the church. They asked if we could pray about a trip they were going to take to China. This made quite an impression on the neighbors who noticed that we do more than just “go to church” together… there is something happening that is unlike anything they’ve seen…
A couple days ago I was stapling up insulation in the walls of a bathroom we are adding to our home. (A brother had already framed the walls for me; another had done the plumbing; another had done the electric; and another had done the heating.) I ran out of staples. Just then a brother named Andy knocked on the door and asked to borrow our rake, but someone else had already borrowed it! So he left in search of another rake. Meanwhile I called a different brother named Ryan and asked if he had any staples for a staple gun. Ryan informed me that he had staples (but no gun) and that Andy had just shown up looking for a rake. Andy got several rakes and Ryan sent the staples with Andy, who hand-delivered them to me. My wife and children ended up going with Andy and helping with raking, while I finished my project.
The other day, I was getting my 2 year old in the car to go to Home Depot. I thought, “This would be a much nicer trip if I had someone to go with me.” So, I called a brother (who lives down the street) and he came over with his son and we all went to Home Depot. It allowed us to observe each others children and offer meaningful input into father-son relationships and child-training. We also opened our hearts to each other on some topics of concern. It was a good time.
A week and a half ago, I had a work-related conference to go to in Chicago, on a Friday. A brother, Joshua, who had the day off graciously volunteered to go with me to keep me company and to fellowship. Another brother, Scott, arranged so that he could have the day off! The day before we were to leave, a dear believer from Missouri called and asked us to come for the weekend: they needed some help with a very serious spiritual matter. God worked through several brothers (7 I think) to show us that Joshua shouldn’t go afterall, but that another brother named Chris should go. And all of us needed to take Monday off of work. So, we all spent the day driving about 3 and a half hours to Chicago. And then another 6 down to Missouri later that evening.
OK, this is getting a little long. Sprinkled in the midst of all this we have had prayer, Scriptures, a few songs, help with child-raising, etc, etc. The other believers would each have their own stories to tell. And if I sat here longer, I would have more to tell as well.
At the very least, strings of affection have been tied in each situation. In some situations, unbelievers have watched. In others, we got to speak truth and life into each other’s lives. We see each other interacting with spouses and children. We can offer advice and speak about things that we can see, but individuals may have missed. Whatever the case may be, may God receive glory in his Church.