Young Adult, Embrace the Art of Neighboring
By Santiago Frank
I observed it growing up, but it never became instinct. “Mom, are you sure Mrs. Derns will be OK with me asking for an egg?” “Should I chat with the Stanton family as I walk by, or is that weird? Hmm, this sidewalk in front of me is suddenly mesmerizing, maybe I’ll focus on that.”
My parents’ generation seems to have an ease of connection with neighbors that’s absent from mine. My mom and dad will regularly chat with the neighbors while people my age will only offer a half-hearted wave.
According to a Pew Research Center study conducted in 2018, 23 percent of young adults aged 18–29 know none of their neighbors. Can Jesus change this reality? How might the truth of the gospel change the way young adults interact with neighbors? It’s as simple as opening your heart, your home, and your hands.
Hearts to Welcome
One of the most basic outcomes of the gospel is that we’re changed. When we meet Jesus, we’re saved from the reign of sin. Our deformed, weary hearts begin to beat with new life, with a new Spirit. This mysterious and beautiful inner work of healing happens through the known reality of Christ crucified for us. His work changes our hearts—the deep seat of our desires and our energy for life—by drawing our ways and inclinations into his Spirit’s life.
The gospel makes us a people who have the courage and compassion to welcome our neighbors.
In John 10:14, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.” This profound truth that Jesus knows us gives us the confidence to move toward others and offer our embodied presence. The good news that we’re known warms our hearts to move toward others and ask their names.
Homes to Nurture
The gospel inspires us to know and be known, to love, and to be loved. And the next step after learning a person’s name is to invite her into a relationship, to have her over to your home.
Neighboring begins at home because that’s where we have the greatest security and openness. If our hearts have been opened to God, we can invite neighbors into our common spaces, our messy living rooms, and our disorganized kitchens. We can ask them to stay a while. If you’re a young adult, this may feel odd because you probably don’t own a house. But you don’t need to be a homeowner to nurture relationships with your neighbors.
Partner with your roommates (or even your parents) to invite someone over. Let him see your odd habits and imperfections, the ways you’re immature and need to grow. Practice hospitality with confidence that in this messy, beautiful, holy process, your neighbors will see Christ in you.
Hands to Tend
As relationships form, you’ll be surprised at the beautiful opportunities that begin to surface. When Mrs. Derns gets snowed in, you may just think about dropping by to shovel the driveway. When the Stantons need a sitter, they may just call you. When our hearts and homes are open to others, our hands are moved to serve our neighbors in tangible and dependable ways.
As young adults, we’re more accustomed to thinking of ourselves. But the truth is, we’re the people in the neighborhood whose hands are the most capable of work. In our youth, we still have stay-up-all-night-then-run-a-5K-in-the-morning energy. Also, as young people, we’re typically poorer in resources but rich in time.
The gospel urges us to redirect our energy and our extra hours in service and care of others. This may mean mowing a neighbor’s lawn or weeding his garden. It can mean showing up early for celebrations and staying late to help clean up.
There’s no time like the present. Embracing the art of neighboring is one way we can remember our Creator in the days of our youth (Eccl. 12:1). So let’s get to know the people who live next door. Let’s put down our phones, lace up our shoes, open our hearts, open the door, and see where love may take us.
Article is from The Gospel Coalition (U.S. Edition). Read the full article resource here: