A few weeks ago I watched several people take the mic at a city council meeting to comment on the lack of street lights in our city. Their concern was understandable in relation to recent crime, so our church bought a bunch of bright light bulbs and spent the last two weekends going door to door in our neighborhood in attempts to brighten up people’s porches. We know this won’t necessarily solve the problem of crime (heck, I actually wish there was less city light so I could look at the stars every once in awhile), but it seemed to be a loving sentiment.
Today we distributed some lights down my own road and I took the houses of those who aren’t as easy to strike up a conversation with so I could get to know my neighbors better. As I knocked on the door of a house across the street from me, it occurred to me that this had been a house I had wanted to introduce myself to for sometime. This family had young kids just like I did and it always amazed me how good the mom was at having patience with trying to get her kids in the car while I yell at my kids for moving so slow.
She answered the door and I introduced myself just to have her reply, “Hey, we serve on the same board in town, don’t we?”
I wanted to face palm so hard. In that moment I realized that I’ve seen her plenty of times. I serve on the same board as her. I’ve listened to her speak. I’ve heard her share her story. I’ve seen her take care of her kids. And somehow, I was completely oblivious of her—this woman who literally lives across the street from me.
I heard a story once of a guy who ran into another guy at a pizza place who looked familiar to him. They both picked up their orders and drove home just to pull into a house within walking distance. That’s why he looked so familiar, he thought. We’re neighbors.
With movies like Ready Player One in theaters this week, we are reminded of just how intensely we are finding ourselves glued to screens and ignoring the world around us. It’s a convicting reminder that it’s hard to love our neighbors if we don’t know them and that this problem will only intensify if we don’t make the effort to be aware.
For a great book on screen addiction, see Craig Groeschel’s book, #Struggles: Following Jesus in a Selfie-Centered World.
For a great book on living an incarnate life vs an excarnate life, see Michael Frost’s book, Incarnate: The Body of Christ in an Age of Disengagement.