church stories

Who is My Neighbor?

By Lindsay Few

a-lat-4384068_1920.jpg

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 

////////////////

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?



Devoted: Serve Others

Left to Right: Ryan Ivey, Jason Miles, Dana Hebert & Natalyn Bachek

Left to Right: Ryan Ivey, Jason Miles, Dana Hebert & Natalyn Bachek

Google says it perfectly. Quoted from Merriam-Webster, of course: “The friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.” Hospitality. To be hospitable.

Hopefully if you are reading this, you’ve walked through our doors at Live Oak and experienced our Hospitality Team greeters. Whether rain or shine, a team of bright, shining faces will welcome and open the door for you before our service begins. If you’ve missed us, then chances are you are late 😊 but no need to worry, we’ll catch you at the end of service! The goal of our Hospitality Team is to be the first welcoming face of Live Oak to usher you into our family. Not only will you catch us at the front doors, but behind the coffee bar, helping you find your seat or just generally showing you around the place.

Of course, we have the PERFECT example of hospitality in Jesus Christ. He is and was the end-all, be-all in hospitality and welcoming those around Him. He was friendly and generous to everyone he came across, no matter their beliefs, background or way of life. In Acts 2:42-47 we enter a scene of exuberant excitement for what is going on. When I read these verses, my heart jumps a little and my mind is set at ease. We find a large group of people who are following Jesus and are literally dropping everything they’ve ever worked for to follow this amazing Teacher.

“That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person’s need was met.

They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.” – Acts 2:42-47 (The Message).

Can’t you feel the high energy of this group just from these few verses? They are utterly enthralled by their new-found way of life and want to shout it from the rooftops. Recently at Live Oak, we’ve been focusing on a sermon series called “Devoted,” all revolving around this passage of scripture and focusing our gaze on being like this ecstatic group of followers. We want our love for Jesus to ooze from us like it does for these people, not just on Sundays, but every day. To be so consumed with Jesus’ love that it naturally radiates from us and invites others to investigate.

With our hospitality team, this is a way we can naturally serve others and welcome them into our Live Oak family. To share our love for Jesus and people on a regular basis to all who walk through the doors. From that first hand shake to the second cup of hot coffee or an empty chair beside us in service, our mission is to connect and truly create relationships that allow us to do life together and not alone. We really do believe that God made us to do life together and these relationships not only bring us closer together, but closer to Him.

Our hospitality team usually consists of eight to ten people who serve regularly, anywhere from every week to once a month – whatever works in their stage of life. Each Sunday we meet for fifteen minutes to go over the day and pray for the service ahead. From there we go to our spots and prepare to greet people or assist them in finding their way around Live Oak. A natural, organic feeling can be felt when serving on our hospitality team, as if you are just hanging out with friends you haven’t seen all week. A lot of times our team consists of people who serve regularly and many deep relationships start from serving the same day each month with someone else, allowing comfortability and a family atmosphere to form.

We hope that each Sunday we represent a culture that supports a “friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers,” and pray that strangers will cease to exist as soon as you walk into our doors.

Pictured above are a few of our hospitality leaders that are willing to help in any way to make your time at Live Oak as natural and comfortable as possible.