“The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish..” – John 1:14 (MSG).
Jesus moved into the neighborhood. Ahh…neighborhoods. The neighborhood reminds us of where we grew up, and the people we grew up around. Remember the street corners, the place where you used to play baseball or other games, the open fields, playgrounds, talking with your friends as you walked along or rode your bike. The word was made flesh and moved into your neighborhood, into Panama City, Callaway, Lynn Haven, Fort Walton, Destin, Parker, and all over Bay and Walton counties, Florida, the U.S., and the world.
Think about that for a second. If you’ve ever bought a home or moved your family to a new place, you do your due diligence. How good are the schools? Is it safe? Are there good amenities and parks and culture? Will the commute to work be convenient? What about local churches? Jesus didn’t think in those terms. Jesus left heaven to come to a fallen, broken world. He moved into a place laced with danger to live among us.
Here is God in human form, God expressing himself in a language that we can all understand. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood, a neighborhood that needs Jesus.
Love God, love your neighbor. No other teaching is greater than these for those who believe in God. But this idea sometimes just becomes, ‘I should love everybody!’ and so we commit to being nice, loving people. But Jesus was really asking us to intentionally know and love our neighbor. Meet the person next door. Get to know them. Eat with them. It turns out that this is the heart of sharing the Gospel with someone – knowing them, loving them, being there for them, and earning a place in their life. Sharing the Gospel without sharing life doesn’t have great results. But a relationship investment demonstrates love. Could it be that it’s not that we have to be in our neighborhoods, but that we’ve been given the privilege of being in our neighborhoods?
You may take regular walks in your neighborhood. But this week, don’t look at it as any walk. Take a quiet, observant walk. If you typically walk with someone in your family, don’t talk. Don’t listen to music. Just walk in silence and observe your neighborhood. Maybe go for a walk at a different time of day or take a different route than you normally would. And look around. What do you see? Whom do you see? What needs do you see? Then pray, “Lord, how are you calling me to respond to this need?
Jesus was not – and is not – distant from us. We aren’t faceless, nameless people to Jesus. As we extend Jesus’ love in tangible ways, let’s “move into the neighborhood” and do life with people.
- What is our responsibility in our neighborhoods?
- How can we build better relationships with our neighbors?