On Friday I reposted a post that I wrote four years ago when I was convicted by my lack of engagement with my neighbors. Since that time my family has worked on intentionally engaging our neighbors and focused on not only being in the neighborhood but also with the neighborhood. This was true of us in India and this is true of us now that we are back in Raleigh.
In our two months back in Raleigh we have picked back up with some neighbors where we left off and then started new relationships with other neighbors. We really have not done much other than just be available and start conversations. Regularly we have heard that we are the only neighbors that talk to anyone or try to build friendships.
At this point in American culture it is quite normal to return from work, go inside, and never speak to any neighbor. This is a point of contextualization that I sense Christians have become all too comfortable with because we also tend to do the same thing. We are too occupied with our own lives, church activities, and do not want to do the hard work of getting to know people.
After spending some time helping my neighbor over the weekend I tweeted, "I hope that we are the only Christians nearby." A generous percentage of Christians in Raleigh-Durham would be 79% or at least 79% claim to be a Christian. It is unlikely that my family is the only Christian family on the block, but it is sad to me that none of my neighbors know one another. Nobody who claims to be Christian is shining their light, engaging the neighbors where they are, and sharing Jesus and the hope he offers.
The place where you live, your neighborhood is one of the main areas that you have been sent by God for a season as a missionary. If the people that live around only know you for the family that wakes up early on Sunday morning and is gone half of the day then there is something wrong. I am not saying I do everything right, I know that I do not, but this is a call for all of us to do the hard work of getting to know our neighbors and neighborhoods so that we can engage with them, love and serve them and ultimately make disciples of them.