For Those Near And Those Far Away
Moving into a new neighborhood is an interesting thing. Step one: unload the truck. Step two: find the place where the boxes you may never unload go. Step three: cut the grass so the neighbors don’t think we don’t care about the place. Step four: meet the neighbors.
When we move into a new neighborhood, we want to know who we might be able to form relationships with, who our kids might play with, who we might ask to watch our dogs when we are out of town. And at the end of moving day, we might be lucky enough to say, “I am so thankful to be here. I like the neighborhood and I like the new neighbors.”
But what if our neighborhood is far bigger than we realize? What if something happened so that when we looked around, we found that our neighborhood doesn’t actually have borders or boundaries or gates to keep the wrong people out and only let the right people in?
When Jesus came into this world, when he left the distance behind and came to live where we live, everything changed. Ephesians 2 says rich, poor, white, black, educated and not - we are neighbors because Jesus came for those near and those far away. He came for those like us and those not.
And when Jesus did that he was saying, in the words of Mark Labberton in The Dangerous Act of Worship, “If you worship me, you find your life in me and you live where I do. Those who are starving or in prison or oppressed are in my heart, just as you are in my heart. The victims of injustice and suffering…where they live, I live. Where I live, you live.” We are all neighbors.
So, in a very real sense, how we care for those in the worst situations makes us better – because it makes the neighborhood more beautiful. That is why we serve others together. Because we share a neighborhood. And because everyone is our neighbor, and everywhere is our neighborhood.
That truth is shaping how we serve others as part of the Summit family. How we serve those in need locally is informing how we serve globally. And how we serve globally is informing how we serve locally. Our local partnership team is teaching us that we should approach serving others as people in need serving people in need – as neighbors who need neighbors. That is why events like niceSERVE are primarily about fostering ongoing relationships. We have something to give but we have something to receive - in Malawi or in Oviedo.
Our global team is teaching us a new category of processing what we see and experience when we enter a culture new to us. Things aren't necessarily right or wrong but can simply be different. This puts us in a posture of learning rather than judging - in Ethiopia or in Pine Hills. Nathan Boyett, our global partnerships coordinator maybe said it best, "we should be having one conversation because local is part of global. Orlando is part of the world." And so, in our neighborhood we drive into every day or our neighborhood we have to fly halfway around the world to, we want to be people dedicated to restoring what was and is most broken—relationships. When we think of people and places this way it has the power to transform the places we go, and gives space for God to transform us along the way.
So, let’s be good neighbors who care about our neighborhood together.
Garry Abbott is the Herndon Campus Pastor for Summit Church and also oversees our Local & Global Department. Garry would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about ways you can serve our local and global community.