What if Jesus lived next door? I mean, literally. What if Jesus was your neighbor in the house or apartment next door? I wonder what kind of neighbor He would be. Would His lawn and landscaping be immaculate? Would I suffer a bit of jealousy as the smell of Mediterranean food cooking at dinner time wafts into my yard? I bet He’d never have to call a repairman to come fix something.
You and I will not know the answers to those questions, but we know more important things by His character and the things He said. In fact, there are three simple verbs to describe what kind of neighbor He would be. He would BE, LISTEN and SHARE.
Jesus would BE present and available. He would be the neighbor that is not too busy to take the time to stop what He is doing to have a conversation with you. He would be out walking the streets, getting to know the people in the area on a first-name basis. (See John 8:42 and Luke 19.)
He would also LISTEN, seeking to understand what your challenges are, what drives you and what gives you joy. Even when tired after a long week, He’d listen for cues that tell Him what your personality is like, and then He’d begin to feel like a genuine friend to you. (See John 4 and Matthew 14:13-21.)
Very intentionally, He would not stop at just being present and listening, because He would then find the right time to SHARE. Not just a stick of butter when you run out, but He would lovingly and verbally share the most important, life-changing truth that exists. He would want to make sure that you understand God’s free gift of grace and forgiveness – that you can live life with purpose now and live eternally in the presence of His Father. He would know that His Father had moved Him into the house next door to you for a very specific reason. God wants to use your neighbor, Jesus, to draw you to Himself. (See John 10:10.)
The second greatest commandment is clear: Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31). Of course, we know that Jesus meant by neighbor: anyone we come into contact with. But do you and I think often enough of our neighbor-neighbor, the people quite literally next door? If we are Christians, then the spirit of Jesus lives within us. And, like the example He set and the command He gave, we should BE with, LISTEN to, and SHARE with our neighbors. You see, for them … Jesus does live right next door.
By Joe Paulo