In Good Faith
This year marked the inaugural year of Neighbourhood Life in Central Alberta.
This included the neighbourhood life trailer BBQ that played host to over 15 neighbourhood block parties that spurred on much needed connections.
It seems that the old fashioned neighbourly instincts have fallen to the wayside, much to the surprise of many.
Loneliness was one symptom that surprised those who lived a few houses down.
And just after someone told me that, “It’s different in the smaller communities such as Lacombe and Blackfalds,” we found two neighbours who have lived down the road from each other for 18 years and had never met.
Perhaps the remote operated garage door and the 60-inch HDTV have played a role in our ‘unfriending’ our neighbour without even noticing. Possibly, we have taken on the attitude that we can afford to live without our neighbours, so why bother?
The hard working family needs to get ahead, therefore, the work week is longer (after all, ‘busy’ is the status symbol), or perhaps multiple jobs are required?
That’s the case with many I have met in the block parties that took place in Blackfalds and Lacombe. It is true for my family as well.
But over the past year, we have made attempts to connect with neighbours. The reason is simply for a richer community.
Each time I am in discussion with neighbours, I find surprises that give way to the statement, “I cannot believe that happened in our neighbourhood!”
That can be negative or positive.
Regardless, the evidence is clear that in this day and age, neighbours have found their ‘Love your neighbour’ wall hanging something that used to be part of their lifestyle.
Loving your neighbour was God’s idea. Loving neighbours make a healthy community, a place where love, joy, peace, kindness and forgiveness reside.
These are some of the attributes that belong to the Kingdom of God.
I have never met a neighbour in Lacombe or Blackfalds that has been opposed to these attributes. The neighbourhoods where these are practiced have been enriched.
In fact, the statement, “I cannot believe that happened” has redefined ‘miracle.’
For it is a miracle the old grumpy guy next door did that, or it is a miracle that the busy neighbour took the time to do this.
But for those of us who continue to drive by our neighbours without even knowing their names, we will never come to witness those miracles, let alone know the richness of what Christ was talking about when he talked about community. One thing to keep in mind – loving your neighbour is not about who you like or do not like.
Love is a word that God invented that He initiated without conditions!
The problem that many of us stumble across is that we will try this ‘loving your neighbour’ thing and discover that we do it with conditions.
Love (I Corinthians 13) is negated if it is connected to an expectations.
Just as a parent loves a child, so God loves us. And this love is without conditions. Mom just cannot stop loving her children.
God cannot stop loving us. It has no conditions, and it cannot be stopped.
This is good reason for us to propel ourselves to love those who maybe will never love us back.
But it is this love that we have been freely given, so that we can also give it freely.
It is clear to me that there are neighbours in every neighbourhood who have not had the Kingdom of God (peace, joy, kindness, forgiveness, etc.) demonstrated to them before.
It is up to those of us who have been loved; or, in other words, have been shown peace, joy, kindness, forgiveness, etc.
For those of us who know what this is like, we are being called to engage in loving our neighbours.
Pastor Rick Abma is the minister at Wolf Creek Community Church.