Maturity

Be Thankful for Nameless Neighbors – There’s No Need to Be Neighborly

Ed, my neighbor next door, is thankful that times have changed. Ten or fifteen years ago he knew every person on our block. Today, Ed claims that there are only three families on our block that haven’t changed in those years. Some of the houses are now rental properties and the renters tend to come and go. Ed says that there is no need to know your neighbor because neighbors don’t even say hello anymore. This, Ed sees as progress as he is convinced that most folks are too busy to be bothered with their neighbors. Ed claims that no one needs to act neighborly anymore as it is outdated.

I see the lack of interaction among neighbors as a disappointment. Yet, I recognize that I need to get with the pace of today. Often the parents in a home are both working, with children involved in various activities so that families may not even have time to eat together, let alone talk to neighbors. I also know that folks are in touch with other people across our nation, and around the world by internet etc. It is baffling to me that folks don’t know their neighbors next door yet know folks half a world away.

The dictionary defines neighbor as one who lives or is situated near another. Neighboring means next to or nearby. Neighborly means friendly and helpful, considerate etc. I feel the best neighborhoods are those where neighborly folks are found. Jesus defined a neighbor as anyone in need.

Jesus told the story of a man who was attacked as he travelled down a road, and was left beaten and half dead at the side of the road. Two people came down the road and left the man injured without offering any help or concern for him. A Samaritan came down the road and stopped and helped the man. He treated the man’s wounds and took him to an inn where he could recover. Jesus showed that a neighbor is anyone whom we see is in trouble. Being a neighbor is our willingness to help another who is in need.

It seems today most folks have nonstop places to go and things to get done. Everyone is so busy looking to their own business and affairs that there is no time or interest for neighbors. Sadly, many folks have also become so busy they have no time for God. Is it because God is dead? April 8, 1966 Time magazine asked this same question “Is God Dead?” In 1961, theologian Gabriel Vahanian argued in his book, ‘The Death of God,’ that modern secular culture had lost all sense of the sacred. He concluded that to the modern mind, ‘God is dead.’

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche used the phrase, ‘God is dead,’ way back in 1882 when he wrote: “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. Yet his shadow still looms.” Once folks believed that God is almighty and all-powerful, a spirit, existing above and independent of all things yet holding everything and one in His mighty power. Today God is not dead but many act, as if, He is dead or dead to them, and their neighbors have no names.

 

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Raymond Maher
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