You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
- Psalm 139:1-6
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
- Matthew 12:46-50
“A few winters ago in Stockholm, Sweden, an 84-year-old woman sat for two months on her balcony before a neighbor discovered she was dead. The woman was found sitting in a chair on her balcony.
“A neighbor realized something was wrong when she saw the woman sitting on her balcony around the clock, despite freezing temperatures. ‘I accused myself for not having seen her earlier.’ She said later. ‘I hope this dreadful story makes us better at keeping in touch with our old neighbors.’
What happened in Stockholm could just as easily have happened in our town, in our neighborhood, or next door to our church, for that matter. Isolationism is not a Scandinavian phenomenon. It is a human tragedy. For fear of poking our nose in someone else’s business or getting involved in something that could backfire on us, we have trained ourselves not to stop, look, or listen.”
- Charles Swindoll, The Finishing Touch
So many directions to go here…
As for the lady in Stockholm, I have had the thought about being alone in a home with neighbors that would never notice that I had not left the house in days. In my younger years, many joked about “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up,” but that is all too real.
But what struck me about the Swindoll quote was that we are supposed to be having a personal relationship with Jesus. From the first Scripture above, we can see that God knows us, better than we know ourselves. From the second Scripture, Jesus calls anyone who communes with Him a brother.
Yet, if Jesus sat on His porch next door and didn’t move for over a month, would we notice?
When is the last time you talked to Him? When is the last time that you heard from Him? Have you studied the book that tells all about Him? Have you talked to others who have a personal relationship with Him?
If you treated your favorite sports figure the way you treat Jesus, would anyone notice that you were a fan? Can you say that you love a particular movie actor, but you have never seen any of the actor’s films? Okay, that was harsh. You saw one film, 20-30 years ago.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “I read the Bible when I was 12. I understand the gist.” Is that a relationship?
Yes, Charles Swindoll speaks of loving our neighbors and keeping an eye on them. Don’t act concerned; be concerned.
I have lovely neighbors. They mostly leave us alone. The husband mows my lawn, because he needs the exercise and my lawn mower is in disrepair – along with the guy who used to push it around the lawn. And, knowing that I was all alone on New Years Day, his wife knocked on the door, midafternoon, with a disposable container filled with the traditional SW Pennsylvania New Years meal: Pork (pulled pork and sausage), mashed potatoes and sauerkraut. It wasn’t my usual Southern tradition of black-eyed peas, cornbread and ham hocks, but I didn’t have to cook.
But in keeping an eye out for the elderly in the neighborhood, we need to keep an eye on ourselves and nurture our relationship with God.
And where I thought I would go in this post? When I started writing this is I was thinking of the younger generations and how they seem more comfortable texting and never saying a word. That may be okay to some degree, but does it replace eye contact? You can’t look into someone’s eyes and gaze at the phone at the same time. The eyes say what the mouth cannot.
In an age when those who evangelize are preaching that we should have a personal relationship with Jesus, we are losing that skill with our neighbors. In time, the concept of a personal relationship with anyone will be gone.
As Swindoll says above “we have trained ourselves to not stop, look, and listen.”
May we stop, look, and listen in the future, with our neighbor and with God.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.