This devotional is adapted from my new series, "The Gospel In Your Neighborhood" - available exclusively to those who sign up for Paul Tripp Plus.
The past two weeks I've written to you about living as a light in your neighborhood. I shared my concern that we don't get out of "the Christian Ghetto" enough, and even when we do, we neglect to see people as people.
This is what I want to share with you today: We're called to incarnate the love of Jesus Christ as we get involved in the lives of our neighbors.
To incarnate means to embody or represent in human form - that's what Jesus did when he came to earth and took on flesh. But it's also what we're called to do today, now that Jesus is no longer physically present. In other words, you and I are meant to live as the visible ambassadors of an invisible King.
But, the whole plan breaks down if we're invisible in our neighborhood! The first step is to get involved. Here are some ideas:
1. Join An Association. Whether it's your homeowners associations, your neighborhood association, or a local business association, these are regular opportunities to engage with people in your neighborhood. And don't forget that you're involved for the people, moreso than the business!
2. Use Your Children. Your kids present wonderful opportunities to engage your neighbors. Whether it's a little league baseball game, an art show at school, or one of the many other events they participate in, you're going to bump into your neighbors all the time if you both have kids. Are you taking advantage of these open doors?
3. Open Your Doors. Your home is a phenomenal resource for ministry. Invite neighbors over for a summer cookout. Host a Super Bowl party. Get your kids the newest video game console, have their friends over all the time, and invite their parents in for food when they drop their kids off. Make your home the most hospitable home in your neighborhood.
4. Serve Others. If there's an older person on your street, ask if your family can do their yardwork each month. Take the extra hour on Saturday to mow your neighbors lawn, too. Bake cookies or banana bread and give it out unexpectedly. Confound your neighbors with an outpouring of generosity and love!
There are many other opportunities unique to your situation; you just need to ask God to open your heart and open your eyes. Here's the point: you can be part of God's agenda of love. And as you shower your neighbors with love and compassion, they'll have a question in their minds: "Why does this person love me the way they do?"
Then you can talk about the beautiful story of Jesus.
Paul David Tripp
- Identify at least 2 people or families in your neighborhood who are hurting. How does Jesus hurt with them?
- With your family, or on your own, come up with a real-life strategy to love those people or families. Be specific when planning events, or ways to serve.