Vision

Who is My Neighbor?

By Lindsay Few

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The Parable of the Good Samaritan 

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 

He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” 

And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” 

And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” 

But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 

Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 

But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. 

He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ 

Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” 

He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.” Luke 10: 25-37 

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My neighbor brought a plate of her famous oatmeal chocolate chip cookies when we moved in. Before that, I had an idea that neighbors might do things like that. I must have seen it in a movie or something, but I grew up in the kind of neighborhood where the garage door opens before you pull into the driveway and closes as you get out of the car. I knew the neighbors had kids (though much younger me) - we could hear them in their backyard from time to time. I knew some of their names. But for the most part, the objective was to avoid contact and get on with doing homework, walking the dog, or checking the mail uninterrupted. 

I’ve seen church look like my old neighborhood. We come in with our own burdens and stressors. We want the singing or the Word, but not the awkwardness and inconvenience of meeting new people; the discomfort of fumbling to remember names and navigate small talk when we’re just trying to get our church fix for the week. And it’s no secret some of us hate the meet and greet.  

When church is like the closed garage door, we may feel safer or more in control of our experience. We know what to expect. But at the same time we miss out on huge parts of the community we’re made for. We miss the chance to support community members during hard times; the chance to ourselves be supported. To celebrate answered prayers. To “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Rom. 12:15) The opportunity to interact with people who look or live a little differently; the opportunity for the world to grow a little smaller; more human. 

It was a long, long way from the closed garage door to making time for the person on the other side of the fence or across the aisle in church. I have a long way to grow, but along the way, thank God I have shed some of the layers of the “my kingdom” mindset I started with. 

From that experience I encourage you to look from where you are now toward the neighbor-hood Jesus described. Our hearts are made to look beyond our self and family unit and “to the good of another person,” (1 Cor. 10:24), and in doing so, to build the Kingdom of God in our daily lives. Life in Jesus’ kingdom; where we look out not only for ourselves and our own, is messier, more complicated, and less convenient, but infinitely richer and more exciting. 

We are too often surrounded by tragedy. It’s easy to feel compassion fatigue; to look for a petition to sign or donation box to check and call it a day. But let’s look back at Jesus’ words and ask: To whom can I be a neighbor today? How can I “love them as myself,” here and now? I challenge all of us to sit with those questions until we can answer them, and then “go and do likewise.” 

How will you love your neighbor today?



Vision Weekend

By Abbey Nobles

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“The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” - Romans 8:3-4

It started in December: the non-stop hustle to get everything accomplished, make everyone feel loved and special, and try to squeeze some time in for connection and purpose with my husband, Brian. In the midst of the Christmas chaos, Brian and I looked at each other and realized that in trying to be so intentional with family, friends, and our students, we had successfully neglected each other. From there, vision weekend was born. We did not set out with the immediate goal of filling out a chart and making big future moves. In the beginning, our mission was simple: plan a weekend where we could “get away,” reflect on both the great and painful things of 2018, and talk about the coming year.

Inspired by Brian Few’s vision sermon this year and reading through a Christmas-New Year’s devotional, we were able to come up with a manageable goal setting and reflective chart that we both could be excited about. (Link to that chart is included here, it is slightly different than the one we passed out at Church) We set our tentative plan of where we would go out to eat, what we would do for fun, when we would talk, etc. and truly let the Spirit inspire what we would talk about. Because we both have a constant myriad of ideas teeming in our brains, and indecision is not too foreign for both of us, we sat down and planned out a schedule so there would be no questions of “where are we going out to eat?” or “what should we do now?” (tentative, but something to fall back on). The week prior we were in prayer and sought prayer from close friends for this weekend. We had some big items to discuss and none of our conversations were stressful or caused any anxiety. We were able to easily knock out about 75% of the chart.

“Do not quench the Holy Spirit.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:19

Advice I would give to anyone wanting to try this weekend are as follows: Be in prayer and ask for prayer from your close community, do not get bummed out if you do not reach all of the discussion goals/topics, trust in the ability to be organic and genuinely inspired; let this guide your conversation. I think we often forget that when we are plugged into the Lord, the Spirit divinely inspires us. We musn’t flee from that and we must be aware of that. Allow time for the Lord to connect you to himself, to inspire and move you deeply. Brian and I started the first morning of our weekend not talking about vision at all, just coexisting in our house, drenched and warmed by the sunrays, drinking coffee on the couch, reading and journaling leisurely and independently, playing music together, and making breakfast. This normality and relaxation was okay because it created the connective space and calm for us to be productive in the following hours.

“Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace… If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” - Romans 8:6, 11

Let's be a Church that doesn’t make excuses; that is divinely inspired by the Spirit and notices it; that encourages one another to be reflective and set goals for our future. No weekend will be the right weekend, you will never get the most perfect babysitting situation, taking off work is never going to be easy, you will not have the right amount of money saved, or ever enough time. We must stop listening to the lies the Devil uses to replace our ability to commit with excuses. God wants to show you all that he is doing in your life. Let us be a Church body that allows time, space, and energy to be divinely inspired and led by the Spirit. Let us hold each other accountable to this call and let us celebrate with one another when we faithfully walk into a time of seeking vision for our lives.