As if it were yesterday, I remember taking a geography test of the 50 states. I remember struggling with some of midwest and most definitely with the New England states. Which one is Vermont and which is Connecticut? Even so, I was still among the first students done and our third grade teacher always encouraged us to, read, work on other classwork or put our heads down and rest if we were ever waiting for others to finish tests and quizzes. I wasn’t a reader, I didn’t like schoolwork, so I ALWAYS chose head-down and quite honestly, there were times I fell asleep!
In my wildest nightmare I cannot imagine being awakened by the sound of gunshots.
I can’t help but think that some young boy or girl at Sandy Hook Elementary had his or her sweet daydreams interrupted by the evil reality of bullets flying through the air seeking to put to death all hope. How are we to respond?
Unfortunately schools, malls and movie theaters are no longer the safe-havens we once thought they were.
If this were not Newtown, CT, but was my own community, how would I respond? If I found out my neighbor had a son or daughter wounded, or even worse, killed, how would I respond?
I hate to say this, but I wonder if I’d even know? Of course I’d know about the incident, but would I know that my neighbor was directly affected? And even if I found out they were victims of this violence, what would I do?
Without relationship would I even choose to invest?
Sure, I’d pray for them, but without relationship, would they even know that I wanted to pray with them?
Christians, it’s time for us to get out of our pews (or nice padded Sunday seats that most of us experience at our weekly gatherings). It’s time for us to know, love and do life with our neighbors. It’s time to invest in their trials and celebrate their triumphs! The good news should be active.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the early church was founded by the early believers gathering together (just as we do); they would meet together, study the teachings together, break bread together and pray together… as a result God added to their number daily those who were placing their trust in Jesus. Scripture tells us that they had favor with ALL THE PEOPLE. This means that though they gathered and prioritized these four elements, they didn’t just gather, they dispersed. They met the needs of others (Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 4:32-37).
Have we forgotten to disperse? Have we neglected to meet the (physical, spiritual, emotional and relational) needs of others?
Are we prioritizing our gatherings like church, Bible studies, youth group and small group but forgetting to disperse? Have we forgotten to be the church because we’re too busy gathering as the church? The good news is meant to be active!
How will we have favor with all the people if we don’t prioritize dispersing?
It’s time for us to wake-up and invest in relationships with our neighbors, teammates, classmates and co-workers (churched and unchurched). Our pride and fear of rejection should not prevent us from applying God’s highest commands to love him and love others. In real relationship, our neighbors will know where we stand with Jesus and even if they choose not to believe, it won’t be because they never heard or saw our love for God and our love for others!
Knowing our neighbors will certainly not prevent all tragedies. But maybe, just maybe, personal investment in our neighbors will lead to less loneliness? If nothing else, the investment in these relationships will lead to knowing how to step in in the midst of these tragedies.
It’s time for us to get out of our pews!