If you are reading this on Sunday, August 26, 2018: Welcome to our Neighbor Day! We are excited that you are here and that you chose to be with us today.
This past Monday morning at about 7:25 I had turned on to 412 off of Mt. Olive on my way to the church building. Out of nowhere, a red Mustang pulled up beside me. I was in the left lane and driving 45 mph (that is the speed limit, FYI). There was also a car in the center lane driving 45 mph, but about a car length ahead of me. And there were several cars turning in the right lane.
Well, the red Mustang was being driven by a young male...I kind of think high school, but may have been a little older...and traffic was not moving to his liking.
I could tell he was about to do something dumb, so I braked a little and, sure enough, he zipped in front of me. I’m sure he was disappointed when he got about 25 yards in front of me and had to slow down for a truck (and there were a line of cars in the right lane, so he could not get around the truck).
It took all of my self-control not to honk at him when I pulled up behind him at the light at 412 & AR 59.
I started to wonder why he was in such a hurry. If he was a high school student, he wasn’t running late (unless it was to a zero hour class, in which case he was already absent, so why hurry?).
Then I was convicted. I do the same thing. Maybe not driving, but in other parts of my life.
I figure if I can zip around this obstacle and zoom ahead, I somehow will be better off. I think that the rules don’t apply to me or that I can ignore the limitations that are in place.
Until I find myself right back where I would have been had I not gotten frustrated and tried to “fix” things.
Sometimes in life we have to understand that we are where we are for a reason. Sometimes we don’t know what that reason is. Sometimes only God knows why He has put us where He has put us and why He has put us there.
Often times when this happens we tend to speed up. We want to figure things out for ourselves and we think that if we just press the gas a little more, it’ll all be over quicker.
At times like these, we just need to relax, slow down and prayerfully await God to reveal His plans in His time.
His paths are not always the easiest; His ways are not always the most fun; but where He leads us is always exactly where we need to be!
From 1968 until 2001, a man graced the airwaves (and cable-waves) of television. His name was Mr. Fred Rogers. Each day he invited children to enjoy and learn in his “neighborhood.”
His show began with him entering his “house” and singing:
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood, A beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?...
It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood, A neighborly day for a beauty. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?...
I've always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So, let's make the most of this beautiful day. Since we're together we might as well say: Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor? Won't you please, Won't you please? Please won't you be my neighbor?
So why does a children’s TV show starring a Presbyterian minister who passed away in 2003 warrant a mention in a bulletin article written by a church of Christ minister in 2018? Good question.
The last couple of lines in his song…“Won’t you be my neighbor? Won’t you please, Won’t you please? Please won’t you be my neighbor?”
As I write this we are only a week and a half away from our “Neighbor Day”. While we should always be ready and willing to invite others to attend church with us, this day provides a “special occasion” for all of us to do so.
In the parable of “The Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37) we learn that our neighbor is anyone who is in need...even the greatest of needs: the need to be introduced to Jesus!
So, I’m wondering...how many of us have family members who are looking for a neighbor?
So, I’m wondering...how many of us have a friend who is looking for a neighbor?
So, I’m wondering...how many of us have a co-worker who is looking for a neighbor?
So, I’m wondering...how many of us have contact of some sort with someone who is looking for a neighbor?
Won’t you please? Won’t you please? Please won’t you be THEIR neighbor?
The other day, before we left for our quick trip to San Antonio, our van needed to have the oil changed. It actually had about 800 miles to go, but the first oil change was “free” at the dealership we bought it from, so I took it in a few miles early.
It is somewhat amazing what you can overhear at a car dealership...and not just from the sales staff.
For example a man and a woman were playing cards when I arrived. The woman had played the game before and the man was “learning.” They would play for a while, then he would ask a question. After 10 minutes, he finally said, “It sounds to me that you’re making up the rules as we go!”
He was teasing her (they were “together”), but I found it odd that the one who did not know how to play “accused” the one who did of “cheating.”
As is the case in many car dealerships, the service waiting area is within ear shot of the service desk. A call came in and they asked to speak to, I guess, the service manager. The guy who answered the call asked if he could say who was calling and the man on the other end was named “John.”
The person John was asking for said, “Tell him I got fired.” The phone answerer looked a bit taken aback by this response. He asked if he was serious and was told, “He was in here two weeks ago and wanted me to buy service rags. I declined, but he got belligerent.”
After waiting about 30 more seconds, the one who answered the call got back on the phone and said, “Sir, I just saw him coming out of our general managers office. He didn’t look happy and was carrying a box to his office.” After a couple of minutes of assuring the caller that he was telling him the truth, the call ended and everyone behind the counter had a good laugh.
This got me to thinking about how prevalent dishonesty is in our culture. Everyone seems to think that, if the end is justifiable, the means just doesn’t matter. You can lie, cheat, steal, or whatever, so long as the “cause” is right.
Jesus tells us that we should be known as honest people. In the Sermon on the Mount, He talks about oaths and says not to take oaths at all, but, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil” (see Matthew 5:33-37).
Are you known as an honest person? Can people trust that what you tell them is the truth? That’s the type of person Jesus calls you to be.
It seems that everyone has an opinion about, well, everything nowadays. And with all the social media outlets, everyone is sharing their opinion about, well everything.
I find it strange that because someone is an athlete or celebrity of some sort that their opinion is immediately seen as more important than a non-famous person’s opinion. And if a famous person expresses an opinion contrary to “popular” opinion…well, they must have their famous “status” taken away.
And while everyone (even a famous person) is entitled to their opinion about everything and everyone has a right to use words to express those opinions...perhaps everyone would be better served to stop and think about their opinions before sharing them with everyone else.
Ephesians 4:29 tells us (and I like how the NIV translates it) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths…” For modern purposes, we could add “or out of your keyboard.”
Frequently I will see friends post things on Facebook that, to put it nicely, could be described as “unwholesome.” Most of the time it concerns public officials who have been duly elected to their public office.
We don’t have to always agree with, for example, the President of the United States, but we do always need to show respect, if not to the person, than to the office. The same is true of every elected official regardless of their office’s prominence. When we resort to speaking/writing about them in a less than respectful way, then even if we are right, we are wrong.
And this applies even to those unelected people with whom we disagree. We don’t need to call them names or be disrespectful towards them.
So how then should we converse with people with whom we disagree, whether it is a political, athletic, or personal or whatever other type of disagreement you can come up with?
Let’s finish Ephesians 4:29 - “...but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
If your “critique” is intended to belittle or disrespect the other party, than you probably should keep it to yourself. If it is meant to build them up and benefit anyone else who may listen, then maybe it should be said or posted.
But that’s just my (and, I believe, Paul’s) opinion!