For the past month or so, my wife and I have had the privilege of taking a class with Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma entitled “Neighborhood Leaders For Today!” Before I dive into some conviction that has been uncovered because of this class, I just want to say, I fully endorse this class. It has been an incredible teaching tool for individuals seeking to serve their neighborhoods. It is kingdom practice in action outside the church. Incredible stuff!
Lately, my heart has been mulling over a fairly profound idea: Love looks like something. This has been a theme tied to many new practices in my life. With this new mindset seeking what love can look like, I have been confronted with how love sometimes looks like the choice to remain still.
The reflection of Deuteronomy 6:5 is found in the synoptic gospels (or a form of general summary; Matthew, Mark and Luke). In Luke 10:27, Matthew 22:37 and Mark 12:30. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Jesus then adds “and love your neighbor as yourself.” This is in reference to Jesus being asked what the most important commandments are. Now, Jesus groups these two together, implying that loving God requires that we love people. God, as perfect Love, has continued to love us out of an abundance of His love since the beginning of creation. This is a beautiful reality for all creation to enter into. Yet, there is something to be said about “loving your neighbor as yourself.” There is an invitation in this portion of the commandment to reflect on the self. Mind you, not all alone, but with the Creator of the universe. We have an opportunity and commandment to know ourselves so that we can love others. Consider for a moment that you do not allow yourself to receive love. Would this imply that we are supposed to treat our neighbors similarly? Evidently, the Lord wants us to tune in to what He is doing in us so that we have something to give to others. This then begs the question, what about when we are told to remain still? Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is receive love from the Lord. Does this give us both space and grace to, in seasons (not forever), do nothing as an act of love? This is by no means an endorsement for neglect for your neighbor or disobedience to the Lord. But, in those seasons of extended rest, where the only person we are to lean on is Jesus, do we trust that He will prompt us to be a loving member of society at the right time?
My wife doesn't do anything…I’m just kidding, I take that back. She does a whole lot of everything! When it comes to the church, she has been in a season of retreat. Watching her interact with others has taught me about healthy boundaries and how empowering saying no can be. There have been many Sundays where she has intentionally chosen rest over coming to service. What I can say about all of these things is that she is being obedient to her season and allowing her rest to bring new perspective and overflow into others’ lives by shifting the assumption of expectant busyness that comes with being a pastor’s wife into a model of seeking healthy rhythms. This class has been a place for us to begin to dream together and it not be about church. I love my wife and I can honestly say that I love how she is intentionally disengaging in some areas of her life.
Practically speaking, in this Neighborhood Alliance class, neighboring well looks like being active. I would agree that most of the time doing nothing is a terrible model. However, there needs to be space for the mysterious love of Jesus to radically transform someone’s heart with the only explanation being that Christ alone radically transformed that person’s heart.