Dear Christian Neighbor,
I wanted to write this letter for a long time, but I wasn’t sure talking to you would do any good.

My Own Journey

Like you, I’m on my own journey.

I’ve been very frustrated because it feels like you don’t even listen to me. Do you really care what I think? I know there has to be more to life, but everywhere I turn, I face another roadblock. I’m struggling at work. The bills keep piling up. My kids are hanging with the wrong crowd, and my mom just got diagnosed with cancer. I really just want to find peace.

I’m looking for genuine love and acceptance, not spiritual answers.

Feelin’ Judged

You talk about truth and scripture in such a way that seems like you’re shoving your opinion down my throat. I often feel judged by you because I don’t understand your thinking. Could I ever measure up to your standard? And is your standard one I want to live up to? You have a different perspective that sounds so foreign.

You seem more concerned for your rights than what is right.

When I’m around you, would I feel valued?

Angry All The Time

To be honest, your religion seems to make you angry all the time. It’s a real downer when you point out everything you find to be wrong in this world. You seem so against everything, it’s hard to believe you could really have my best interest in mind. Your complaints don’t exactly inspire me to become a Christian like you.

Before you talk to me about my spiritual needs, I want to know you respect me, that you care for me.

Life is tough. Many times, I feel empty and lonely. I’ve been put down and excluded.

Stand By Me

When I’m struggling, and you say, “Jesus is the answer,” your simple statements ring hollow. I don’t want to be around people who are always judging me or trying to set me straight. What I really want to know is if you care about me as a human.

I need real friends; friends who stand by me when I’m alone, afraid, or hurt.

If you want to influence me, just be my friend.

Sincerely,

Your neighbor

We want to be good neighbors. It’s the Jesus thing to do. What recent impressions are Christians making on our neighbors? What are your thoughts? Please be a good neighbor and leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

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Bob Jones

Bob Jones

Happily married to Jocelyn for 41 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie and daughter Jayda; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love inspiring people through communicating, blogging, and coaching. I enjoy writing, running, and reading. I'm a fan of the Double E, Bruins, Celtics, Red Sox and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

4 Comments

  • Calay says:

    As I read the letter I kept thinking of the woman at the well. Here’s why…

    As Christians, our primary role is to share the Gospel and become more LIKE Christ in our lives. He demonstrated an interest in people. Especially those who couldn’t understand why a religious leader would acknowledge them (based on their previous experiences they were garbage in the eyes of those leaders).

    For us, we can be more like Jesus through our relationships with the world around us both our inner circles and, AS IMPORTANTLY, with those who see us from afar (neighbours, coworkers, etc).

    Take the woman at the well. She was a Samaritan. In contrast, Jesus was from a devout Jewish heritage.

    Suffice it to say, the Jewish people generally avoided and looked down upon the Samaritan people. Not to mention a Samaritan WOMAN (historically women have been regarded as less then in most societies. This is simply a fact of history and I won’t be addressing that any further here).

    Back to our story, the Samaritan woman does not shy away from scoffing at Jesus reminding him he is betraying his Jewish standards by approaching her. Later we learn that this truly shocked his disciples.

    Not to mention that Jesus finds her there in the middle of the day. To clarify, gathering water was never done in the middle of the day so this woman was not only a Samaritan but she was obviously an outcast in her own community. She was either not allowed to join the other women gathering water or was avoiding them for a yet unspoken reason. Regardless, she was not even accepted in her own community. This makes her the ultimate outcast. Why would Jesus approach her?! We find out quickly.

    Jesus asks her to draw him water. She calls him out for acknowledging her. Then He goes on to reveal WHO HE TRULY IS to her by explaining he offers living water that would satisfy her thirst eternally. He acknowledges himself as the long awaited Messiah.

    This story evokes such humility in me. If the God of this universe – born human and raised in a devout Jewish family, knowing all the scriptures and expectations – can see past the foolishness of human judgement and prejudice then how is it any of us feel we have a right to judge those in the world?

    Not to mention that he did not go to her to call her out, to force his beliefs or to claim his own rights. Instead He offered her living water and the love of God which meant eternal life in heaven.

    Jesus offered all that simply by starting a conversation. Then he listened to her as she made clear that she felt judged by those around her (I’m picturing her tone as one of scoffing when she calls him out for talking to her).

    Yet he loved her through her bitterness and, even when he had a right to judge her behaviour, he acknowledges her many husbands and her current relationship in a matter of fact way. Why? I suspect he did so to let her know that he was already well aware of who she was when he sat down to speak to her.

    Imagine that? He knew her sordid past – this holy man who was sinless and was ultimately given the power to judge all who live – yet he still loved her as a neighbour and demonstrated compassion by sharing himself with her PLUS offering her the ultimate gift of salvation!

    The woman accepts his gift, runs back to her community, tells them about Jesus and brings many back with her. Jesus stays two days with that group of Samaritans and shares even more of himself with them. Ultimately many believed because of the woman and then based on their own experience with Christ.

    Wow. I want to be a neighbour like that. One who doesn’t lead with my personal opinions so that my neighbours avoid me. A neighbour that demonstrates love and kindness before offering the Truth about Christ. Yes, he is the ultimate Love we all are seeking and following him is the best decision anyone could make. BUT, as Christians, we shut down any desire for others to know him when we misrepresent him with sour attitudes, judgments and a self righteous claims.

    Keeping our our hearts focused on Christlike responses will sow far more than asserting our rights, judging others (please do not even get me started on biblical standards being applied to a sinful world), and the general air of superiority we emanate when we behave like Christianity has cured us of some curse. Jesus is the only way. Let me repeat that. Our faith is not in Christianity – it is in Christ. We were GIVEN grace, love and forgiveness. We need to stop acting like we’ve earned it or that we deserve it. We do not. Just as we received Christ’s love as the gift it is, we must offer it to other in an authentically loving and humble manner.

    In my own experience, I find by offering an immediate awareness of my own faults, usually in a humorous self deprecating way, disarms any sense of superiority and shows that I am fully aware of how desperately I need kindness, grace and love myself. It may not place me in a very attractive light but it sure makes it more potent when I it becomes clear how gracious God must be to want me in his family!

  • Vahen King says:

    Great word today Pastor Bob.

    “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
    Matthew 22:36‭-‬39

  • Bob Jones says:

    Calay, you always have thoughtful responses. A neighbor that doesn’t lead with personal opinions. We all have opinions but they don’t make for the best lead step in building bridges. Keep shining.

  • Ernie Pudwill says:

    Thank you Pastor Bob…there have been many times over the past several years that I have hesitated to identify with being a “christian” as support for dubious ideals and criticism of others have multiplied. No where in the New Testament does Jesus finger point at those suffering from being human and making human errors but instead calls out those that purposely hurt others for their own gain. Too often we are seeing individuals who identify themselves as “righteous” fall in to the latter category rather than the first.

    Unfortunately, this is not synonymous with Christianity but is evident in much of society and many other religious communities. Perhaps if our actions were based on the actual scriptures rather than our beliefs of how others should act, we might have a more loving, caring, and giving world.

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