In Mark 5:19, Jesus tells the man he has just delivered to, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” As Chuck did well to remind us this past Sunday, this man was sent first and foremost to his most immediate sphere of influence. In the same way, this is the first place we should all seek to live out the Great Commission.
This means living with gospel intentionality wherever you find yourself, but I think there is specific and immediate application for those of us who have neighbors (which should be all of us… some just have to walk farther than others)
Now, when I moved into a neighborhood 2 years ago, I admit I had a bit of an idealistic picture of what this would look like. While working for a landscaping company a few years ago, I had observed a strangely vibrant community where families seemed to come out each day at 5:30 like clockwork. The kids would play around the cul-de-sac, dads would chat over the grill, and mom’s would stand (a bit closer to the kids) laughing and swapping stories. “Man, I can’t wait to live in a neighborhood,” I thought.
Well, I must have been doing some serious day-dreaming. I found out that, where I live, people only come out of their houses to get in their car, get something out of their car or quickly do the obligatory yard work. Every Wednesday night, every trash can on my street beats mine to the end of the driveway, but I’ve never seen anyone wheeling it down… I don’t know how they do it! Sometimes the only sign of life at a house is a blue, flickering light behind the blinds. It can get a little creepy.
So, perhaps a little ironically, I met more of my neighbors this past Halloween than any night before. I defiantly advertised on Facebook and set up a hot-chocolate stand right on the road. The weather did not cooperate (at all), but more than a dozen people came by to say hello and thanked me for stepping out on a limb. The highlight of the night was a couple who drove all the way down our driveway and came into our home, just for the chance to meet someone new. We had a great conversation and are planning to get together with them again soon.
My point is this. Living out the Great Commission means approaching all of life like a missionary and missionaries have to adapt to their context. We must be creative and bold if we are ever going to reach a world that is increasingly closed off to the things of God.
I hope this challenges you (as it has challenged me), but also encourages you. I have seen that deep down, people long for relationships. It’s how we’re made. Sure, it’s easier to stay in and watch Netflix, and it’s why so many choose it, but having a rich, authentic conversation is simply more fulfilling. Pursing relationships with the lost can truly be the most natural and enjoyable thing in the world, if we’ll have the boldness to initiate.
May our relationship-seeking God go before you and bless you as you seek to neighbor well!