We’re nearing the end of a phenomenal series called, “The Neighboring Life,” where we’re learning what Jesus said about the fundamental aspect of discipleship: neighboring. Neighboring is so easy you should be doing it. “Easy,” is a tongue-in-cheek way to describe the difficulty of discipleship, because anything worth doing will certainly come with some trials, and neighboring is definitely an act that will require lots of faith.
I began my inaugural sermon in discussing the word, “SAY,” where we’re learning to be bold and blunt witnesses by allowing God to speak through our testimonies. We ended our time together with this simple challenge: we can neighbor better.
Better is a preferable word to use, say, rather than “good,” or, “bad.” The word, “better,” shows us that we’re always a work-in-progress, still with some flaws, that wants to be more because of what Jesus has done for us. The best version of ourselves in Jesus is incredibly ambitious, and while we don’t do the brunt of the transformation work, there’s some room for us to contribute.
In learning to neighbor better, as well as sharing our stories, perhaps the most important development is the art of conversation. We must be better conversationalists.
Below is an excerpt from The Neighboring Life: Study Guide, pg. 111
To have better conversations and share our lives, we need to ask better questions of each other and our neighbors. “What’s your name?” “What do you do?” are good starting places but Jesus was always asking way more interesting questions than that. Here are some easy, but better follow up questions we can ask one another to get to know each other and share our own stories.
How did you end up in ______________(insert your state or city)?
What was your best day ever?
Where did you grow up?
What were some of your hobbies as a kid?
What do you like to do for fun now?
What’s one of your dream vacations?
How did you meet your wife/husband?
What’s one of the best gifts you’ve ever received?
Those are excellent primers for better conversation. They’re beginners for deeper neighboring that will hopefully result in life transformation. Albeit, those questions aren’t all that you can offer your neighboring relationships. Over time we can learn to be attentive to when the Spirit wants to use our own experiences for a moment of healing, clarification, or further discussion. For example:
Marriage and parenting
Work and vocational change
Family related illnesses and/or loss
The better conversationalist you can become will mean that you learn to not only listen to your neighbors, but also to the voice of the Spirit, who will push you to be witnesses to what God has already done in your life. Remember, look for the victories of Jesus, the most apparent times when God has been at work.
I suspect there’s much work to be done. Soli Deo Gloria.