Ordinary People, Ordinary Neighboring
When we think of our neighborhood as being a mission field, it may not be the glamourous and exciting way we imaged God would want to use us. There can be many joys and rewards to creating strong community friendships, but at the end of the day…neighboring can be rather ordinary. It’s a long-term commitment, managing conflicts, drinking coffee of the front porch, putting yourself out there, making lots of small talk, and sacrificing time and it can all start to feel like you’re just doing tedious and insignificant tasks.
In the midst of the everyday, we can become worn out and tired, maybe even asking ourselves if God doesn’t have something bigger than this in mind for us. Most of us won’t ever be nationally known or even known beyond our own community, but this doesn’t make our role as Christ followers and neighbors any less significant. The Gospel was spread through ordinary people, read how Peter and John were described when questioned by the Sanhedrin about a miracle they performed:
“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished, and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” Acts 4:13
Francis Shaeffer also offers perspective about the importance of Gospel work being done by everyday people in his book, No Little People
“Each Christian is to be a rod of God in the place of God for him. We must remember throughout our lives that in God’s sight there are no little people and no little places. Only one thing is important: to be consecrated persons in God’s place for us, at each moment. Those who think of themselves as little people in little places, if committed to Christ and living under his Lordship in the whole of life, may, by God’s grace, change the flow of our generation.”
While our standards, being influenced by the influencer culture, may tell us that our lack of glory and the hard work required to neighbor well isn’t worth it, God thought it was important enough that Jesus left us with the mission to make disciples and baptize the nations (Matthew 28:19). What's great is that you don’t need to travel anywhere to baptize the nations and make disciples, there are people all around you every day that need to hear the good news of Jesus. As Shaeffer implied, ordinary people and moments can be a vehicle for gospel transformation in our neighborhoods. Let’s take encouragement from Scripture about our faithfulness to the mission of sharing the Gospel with our neighbors, to find joy in the ordinary and simple art of neighboring.
"10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Romans 12:10-13
I hope you can recall this Scripture to mind when you’ve had another long day being in relationship with people, when you feel like all your seed planting isn’t producing any crop, and you feel burnt out on doing seemingly meaningless tasks. We just need to be obedient in the ordinary and let God do the rest.