Man, I've been irritable lately....as one of my evidently secret readers just found out. A lack of sleep and touch and go flu symptoms have started to wear on me. At the base of it all is just kind of a heaviness that seems to be compounded by more tragic events this week.
Around midnight the other night we awoke to sirens that stopped on the street in front of our house. I looked out the window and thought it was an elderly neighbor woman so I laid back down and began to pray for her. My wife couldn't fall back to sleep so she went downstairs, then I heard her go out our back door. When she finally came back to bed she told me it wasn't who we thought it was, rather it was another neighbor who found their son who had od'd with the intent, he thought, to take his life. My wife said the situation looked pretty grim.
This young guy moved back in with his dad after leaving Florida earlier this summer. I met him fairly quickly since we share a property line and soon he and I began to have frequent conversations, usually over the fence. I helped him clean up a tree he took down and he helped clean up some branches that fell from one of my trees. It became apparent this kid had a tough life. Obviously, my prayers changed immediately and I was left restless and awake for the next four hours.
My wife got a chance to talk to his dad that night. He said he appreciated how the neighborhood took him in and befriended him...and that he spoke highly of me. Which thrust like a knife, because I clearly didn't do enough to help this kid. I said I'd invite him to play pool sometime in my barn and never did....I had thought about asking him if he wanted to go grab breakfast or lunch sometime because he never leaves the neighborhood....but I didn't.
I've been exchanging emails with an elder in our church about "reaching out" which is code in most churches for evangelism. I grew up in a red-hot evangelistic church-for 25 years of my life. And I have real issues with it today. Not because I don't want to see people brought into new life in Christ, but because it tends to be void of love. What is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord your God with all your heart & mind...and the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.
My question was.....do you really know how to love your neighbor? Not love with the aim of conversion...but just love. The commandment wasn't to convert your neighbor as yourself, but to love them. Think with me evangelicals.....have we EVER been taught to love as Christ commanded? Have we even been taught to model Christ? I think we get hung up on holiness and conversion and believe that it's a recipe to fill our churches. "They will know you are my disciples by your love".
I've said this before and it becomes something that discredits me because of my actions. I step out my back door and my mission field is all around me....it's the six widows, seven fatherless kids and four people that struggle with serious addictions....and one young man that struggles with depression......all within a few hundred feet of my door. Most suburbanites haven't the opportunity to "love their neighbor" to the extent, and need, that I do.
Be praying for this guy. When I called the hospital yesterday he was in the cardiac recovery unit. And you can bet when he gets out, we'll shoot some pool.