Awkward Neighbor


We have all read the story of good old Mary and Martha! I have heard it preached SO MANY TIMES. Every time the point was always about spending time in the presence of the King… well I recently read this scripture and God took me down a different path in regards to understanding Luke 10:38-42 and applying it to my daily life.

Look at this scripture from the viewpoint of being a neighbor hosting some folks for a delightful, friendly meal.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.  Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

I would consider sisters Mary and Martha “neighbors” to Jesus. They weren’t family, but they were still in a relationship that opened the door to host Jesus at their home for a meal. Sounds like they fall in the neighbor category to me.

Let’s define neighbor. Neighbor – those who live in your community, co-workers, those we see often at church, the gym, the kids sports game, and ANYONE ELSE you can think of! Jesus’ definition of “neighbor” included strangers beat up and left for dead on the side of the road… so that pretty much sums up that EVERYONE God brings across our paths in a day can be included in the neighbor category.

When it comes to reaching out to my neighbors I can very easily make them into a to-do list! Can I get an amen from anyone? I have, on more than one occasion, sat down and made a list of “neighbors” that I need to check off my list by spending time with them! EEK! Making people a to-do list isn’t exactly an authentic way to create meaningful relationships with them. Anyone else guilty here?

Martha was guilty! She and Mary invite Jesus and his fellas over for a meal and we see two very different mindsets of how to engage with our neighbors! Martha, busy getting the checklist done so the people in her home feel valued and have a good experience. Mary, sitting with Jesus and authentically engaging in conversation with him. Hmmmm, which one of these women sound like you when it comes to your neighbors? I must confess I am so much MARTHA that it hurts. It hurts because I know WHY my default is to act more like her… it is easier! It is easier to be busy with tasks and hope that it makes others feel welcome and loved, rather than face to face, awkward conversation that requires you to listen, learn, grow and love!

Think about your habits when it comes to interacting with those people who are in your neighbor sphere of influence. People at work, do you slow down and really care about how they are? What about people at church? And those folks you wave to every day when you grab your mail, that’s if you even look around to make eye contact. These are the people God put in our lives so that we could influence them to know him. Hard to do when we make them a to-do list.

 Our Challenge: To authentically engage with the people who surround our worlds every single day, our neighbors. Be the AWKWARD NEIGHBOR! Get over our comfortable little bubble, step out of it and enter into the life of someone waiting to hear about the hope of the world. This means letting down our guards and allowing others into our world too. Their life is worth it.  Eternity is worth it. Jesus is worth it.

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