“The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” -Jesus
Only a few short months ago, I graduated from MC, married a lovely lady named Ruth Ann, became a young professional, and moved to the Fondren District of Jackson- a vibrant, bustling community desperately longing for reconciliation. Ruth Ann and I desired from the very beginning to take Jesus’ commission to make disciples seriously, so we took the plunge, got to know some strangers, and began wading through the muddy waters of loving our neighbors.
Oh how I wish that was my desire as an MC student! The only muddy waters I ever waded through were in the Health-Plex parking lot after a big thunderstorm. Sure, I engaged in the vastly encouraging array of small groups, social organizations, and campus ministries as anyone should, but every activity was about my own personal benefit. My life as an MC student was spent mostly I focused rather than mission focused. I loved to hear what Jesus had to say, but I rarely loved to do what Jesus said. I loved my friends, my church, and my club, but I just did not love my neighbors, plain and simple.
How do we love our neighbors? As daunting as Jesus’ task may sound, it is actually quite simple. There really is no superior formula or method; there is only believing in God’s promises and doing what He says. For all practical purposes though, here are five things that might serve as stepping stones for anyone’s journey toward loving their neighbors:
- Pray like there is no tomorrow. Just as Jesus taught his disciples, so all of us must pray, “your kingdom come, your will be done, on (insert your location here) as it is in heaven.” Although I found plenty of time to complain of the “lost-ness of our campus”, I rarely prayed for my school or my hall-mates. If I could speak to my former self, I would look him straight in the face and say, “Start praying, or please stop talking.”
- Find one, two, or even ten people on your hall or apartment wing to partner up with. It is biblically clear that we are not called to be lone rangers on this mission. Remember, people who strive for community will sometimes get mission, but people who strive for mission will almost always get community.
- Learn everyone’s name on your hall or apartment wing. I never once could tell you a single name on my hall save for my friends. This simple step will propel anyone towards loving their neighbors like Jesus did. No matter the social, cultural, or economic background, strike up a conversation and learn their names.
- As a team, figure out ways to get to know your neighbors. Spend time in their room. Have a movie night and bring them over. Bake cookies and leave a note. Invite them to the Taco Bell run at midnight (because nothing says midnight snack like sour cream out of a calk gun).
- Engage in a very intentional and self sacrificing relationship. When is the big test? How is the sick family member? Find these things out. Give a ride to Wal-Mart; help move a couch. Learn their stories out of want, not obligation. And most importantly, point them to a much bigger and better story than ours – The story of Christ Jesus crucified and resurrected as well as the story of God reconciling all of creation.
We are called to much more than a few short-term mission trips. Our calling extends to daily and intentional mission, constantly loving our neighbor right on campus. Join me in getting to know some strangers, learning their stories, and sharing our own. Let us take our mission seriously, all the while praying, “Our Father…your kingdom come, your will be done, [at MC] as it is in heaven.”
– David Moss, Contributing Writer