It was always a lawyer like me that tried to set up Jesus. Remember he came up and said tell me the big commandment and Jesus said, to love God with your heart and your soul and your mind and to love your neighbor like yourself. I learned a lot about loving your neighbor from a neighbor of mine who lived across the street.
In our neighborhood, we have a parade, this beautiful tradition on our block because we have this idea that loving your neighbors means you need to know them. So that you can love them. We’ve had this parade for 22 years, it’s been terrific. Our neighbor Carol, who had become part of our family more than neighbor, was the queen one year. You guys, it was great. When she went to the grocery store, people bowed to her and called her your majesty. It took her 45 minutes just to fill her tank with gas. Everybody kept interrupting her saying let me do that for you. It was really beautiful, and I think there’s something about loving our neighbors that’s just woven into our DNA. I know it’s woven into our faith. It was so important that Jesus said that’s where we’d start, not where we’d end.
It’s what neighbors do. It’s what we were meant to do. We were meant to find our joy and part of our joy is helping other people find theirs.
Carol developed cancer and after all the treatment, she went home to be among her friend and family for the last days that she would spend here on earth. I asked her, Carol do you have kind of a bucket list thing? Something you always wanted to do that you just never got around to doing before. She said, you know what, I’ve always wanted to toilet paper someone’s house. I’m like, that’s awesome. Well the next day she called me at 4pm and was like let’s go. I was like girl, you usually go at midnight but whatever. So, we went across the street and we started throwing toilet paper across the tree and she had quite an arm too. Just as we were getting the last roll over the top, the cops showed up. They turned on their lights and said this is a misdemeanor. I’m like buddy, I have diplomatic immunity and she’s dead in a week, sue me.
Well that’s some of what happened. We just want to find that childlike faith. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about that. Two of his friends were arguing about who’d get the big chair next to him in heaven. He said I’ll tell you the truth, unless you change and become like a child, you’ll never enter the kingdom of God. I was raised that you just need to say a prayer, evidently there’s more. It’s a childlike faith, not childish, guys we’ve got that nailed, but a childlike faith. Think of that playfulness, think of the younger version of you. What do you do when you lose the keys to your car? You go back and you say where was the last place you saw them. Think about it, say where was the last place I saw my joy? Where was the last place that I felt that this idea of curiosity, what was happening around me? Who lived around me? Who were my neighbors?
You know what Carol taught me? She taught me the value of knowing your neighbors. Not just knowing about them or just waving to them but diving into their lives. Because we did a cannonball into Carol’s life, she did a cannonball into ours. She taught us more about our faith. She taught us more about these beautiful ideas that Jesus shared with a lawyer, to love God with your heart, your soul and your mind and love our neighbor like yourself.
Here’s the deal you guys, we want to love everybody on earth. But what we need to do is start across the street. Find these people that God’s already put in proximity to you and be present to them. I know it can be awkward, God makes us in every different flavor. But what he made for us is to understand more about him by understanding more about the neighbors that he put around us. If we keep avoiding people, we’ll never meet our neighbors and we’ll miss out on some of what God has. I meet people that don’t want to be around other people and I’m like oh you’re going to hate heaven.
So just start with your neighbors. Here’s a practical thing, you’ve got a neighborhood full of people, go and meet people. Bring them a candy cane, don’t wait for Christmas. Drop them a note and say, you know I’m just grateful to be your neighbor. Find some way to connect. I’ve got a neighbor who for a dozen years took my garbage out every single Monday morning and he put it back. He’s running this huge corporation, but he spent every single week taking my garbage out and putting it back. You know why, he knew what it meant to love your neighbor. I think you do too. You’re probably amongst a group of them now. You might be in different neighborhoods, but God sees this earth as one big neighborhood. So, you don’t have to, again, go across an ocean.
Go across the street, find somebody and take the next courageous step for you. We aren’t going to compare leads, because God doesn’t do that. He isn’t interested in what you do, compared to what I do, and the next person. But what he did is plant these beautiful people around you and I hope you go and meet them because you’ll find out more about who he is, you’ll find out more about who you are, when you find out more about who your neighbors are.
— Bob Goff, adapted from Love People Where You Are, Session 1 of Everybody Always
How to Use This Study
Bob Goff hopes you’ll listen to the stories in his video study, Everybody Always, and think of ways to engage and love your neighbors even if you don’t know them yet. What’s your next courageous move? Bob says it may just be next door but once you find them, you’ll find a little more about your faith. In his five-session video Bible study about loving people the way Jesus loves them, Bob provide practical steps to help you take that journey. Learn more at ChurchSource.com