How Jesus Frees Us to Love Our Neighbor

November 7, 2012 · 9 comments

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by Gloria Furman

A few years ago our family stayed in a church’s guesthouse for two wonderful, jet-lagged, rainy weeks. We always enjoy our visits to that city and look forward to the refreshing fellowship we have with our friends. Plus the tamales at the restaurant down the road from the church are to die for!

On one gloriously overcast afternoon I was loading our kids into the rental car when I noticed a station wagon pull into the driveway next door.

Feeling pressed on every side to get errands done during the baby’s jet-lag-induced nap, I was strongly tempted to pretend I didn’t see them. I wanted no distractions during my strategically planned window of time. And besides, I reasoned to myself, we’re only here for a short while. Who has time to say hello to people at a time like this?

Then as I was clipping the last seatbelt the Holy Spirit used my preschooler to remind me of my Father’s redeeming love. Waving and pointing she cried out, “Look, Mom! We have neighbors! Neighbors!”

Neighbors are people and people are God’s image bearers. There is so much delightfully effusive potential for treasuring Christ when you have the privilege of being anyone’s neighbor for however long the Lord wills.

I’m grateful for the way the Holy Spirit pointed out the sinful self-orientation of my heart through my child’s chubby finger pointing out my neighbors. What kind of a wreckless life would I be living without the Spirit’s ministry of convicting me of my sin? (John 16:8)

But that’s not all!

The Holy Spirit also pointed me to heaven where Jesus is because God raised me up with Christ and seated me with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6). What kind of a dismal life would I be living without the Spirit’s ministry of comforting my heart? (Rom. 5:5)

Remember those two cosmos-altering words: But God.

“But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Jesus has carried the burden of fulfilling God’s perfect law of love for us. God credits Christ’s righteousness to us by our faith in him (Rom. 4:5).

We don’t have to whip our consciences with all the times we’ve failed to be missional neighbors. We don’t have to try to redeem our own sin through a works-righteousness-driven “making up for lost time.”

Instead, we can rejoice in Christ and glory in his death on the cross that atoned for our sin. We look to Christ and we see him as he is—raised from the dead victorious over our sin!

The ripple effect of having been raised with Christ is that we have a new calling.
We are free to stop living for ourselves. We are free to live for Jesus because he died for us (2 Cor. 5:14-15)! We’ve been made new creations in Christ and given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-19).

Our salvation is cause for personal rejoicing and public reveling in the grace of God, inviting more people to join the feast. Jesus can use our strategically planned windows of time in whatever way his holy will pleases because he’s made us ambassadors for him (2 Cor. 5:20).

Just as we are controlled by Christ’s love we are equipped with Christ’s power to love others. Our Father will supply what we need for any and every need we have according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:19). God gives us the strength we need to serve in such a way that he gets the glory (1 Pet. 4:11).

For the sake of his name among all the nations, Jesus frees us to love our neighbor.


ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. Gloria is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Alicia November 8, 2012 at 4:26 am

The Holy Spirit has been convicting my heart about this very topic! I have to say, learning to hold my own agenda loosely as I seek His divine appointments is much harder than I wish it was. Thank you for pointing out that is not about me but about my Savior and Lord. It is only through His power that I am able to walk His path for me.

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2 Kara Dedert November 8, 2012 at 6:18 am

How is it that we turn the most beautiful things into bondage and works again? Thank you for pointing us to Him!

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3 Gloria November 8, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Kara, how true! Praise God for his grace upon grace!

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4 Carrie November 8, 2012 at 12:16 pm

We live in China and were in the States a few years ago. Staying in a Houston suburb, I became quite comfortable with fenced in lots and rolled up car windows. I quickly discovered that if I wasn’t intentional about loving my neighbors, it just wouldn’t naturally happen. How was I supposed to bring treats to my neighbors when everyone has fences?! I used it as an excuse. A comfortable one. I had to get really creative and put down my idea of who my time belonged to. Thanks for the reminder!

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5 Gloria November 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Carrie, like you I also have comfortable excuses and I need this reminder all the time. Thank you, Jesus, for empowering us to serve with gladness!

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6 Tim November 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Wonderful reminder and encouragement here today, Gloria. I especially liked this: “Neighbors are people and people are God’s image bearers. There is so much delightfully effusive potential for treasuring Christ when you have the privilege of being anyone’s neighbor for however long the Lord wills.”

It just goes to show that there really was a point to that story about the good Samaritan, wasn’t there?

;-)
Tim

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7 Gloria November 12, 2012 at 6:24 am

Tim, I need this reminder all the time! I’m so glad it blessed you, too.

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8 Aimee Byrd November 10, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Well written. I often need to preach the gospel to myself in this area with loving my neighbor’s kids :) We have a perpetual ringing doorbell over here, and most of the time I remind myself that it is a blessing. Just yesterday morning (I think there’s a proverb for that), the neighbor’s little girl came running over while her mom was in the shower. She knows I drive my kids to school, and was cooking up excuses of why she needed a ride with me instead of the bus. I told her that she didn’t need excuses, I was happy to take her. She and my daughter Zaidee were my last drop before the busy day of errands ahead of me. Of course, I get a few miles down the road only to receive a call from the school. It was my daughter Zaidee. The neighbor left her lunch in my car and I needed to turn around. I had to strain my attitude through the gospel filter on that ride back! Free. to. love.

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9 Tim November 14, 2012 at 1:30 am

Forgotten lunches have given me cause to use the gospel filter too, Aimee!

I don’t know if “Just yesterday morning” has a proverb, but it certainly has a song lyric. Fire, rain and James Taylor come to mind.

Tim

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