The Member Musings section of our blog is written by church members in the hope of encouraging you to see all of life through the lens of the gospel. Today we hear from Daniel Smeltzer about living out the call to love our neighbor!
Pay it forward, sharing is caring, and endless more are cliché statements involving the Biblically rooted concept of loving your neighbor as yourself.
But why is it so hard to love my neighbor?
“Well,” we may muse, “the Bible doesn’t literally mean neighbor. It must have been a figurative reference, so even if I don’t know my neighbors’ names I’m ok!”
While that is all well and good, at what point are we shutting off God’s desire for us to consider others better than ourselves? What is the real walkaway principle of this command? What does God mean? What does God want?
These were the questions that my wife and I began to ask when considering where to live.
Jolene and I have decided to use everything we have and all that we are for God’s glory. But how do we practically love our neighbor?
Seeing that there is a large international student community in the South Bay, particularly the North Torrance area, we felt our “neighbors” to be the almost 1,000 international students who attended El Camino College. So, we intentionally chose to live in the North Torrance area where we could serve the international students attending El Camino College. We felt compelled to obey God’s calling to love our “neighbor” by renting out a spare bedroom to a Chinese international student we had met through Lighthouse’s international student ministry who was in need of a host family.
Jolene and I also prayed to find a house close to the school as a strategic means for reaching out to the international students we meet from El Camino and Spectrum ministry. We decided that if we have to live somewhere, we might as well live in a place and in a home that we can use to share God’s love, where we can daily be connected to the ministry that we love and serve. This sacrifice of our own comfort is a challenge, but we take comfort trusting that this is God’s plan for our lives right now.
So, this is how Jolene and I felt called to serve and love our neighbor. For you, the way to love your neighbor might look different. But how much more strategic can we be than to share our lives, our homes, our families, our possessions, and our time in real ways, such as sharing your culture through food with your neighbor, inviting your neighbor to watch sports (Lakers/Dodgers/UCLA/USC) games at your home, or to baby-sit their kids while they enjoy a date night, etc…
There are endless possibilities; it just takes one thought, one action at a time, to grow your love for your neighbor.
Why should we do these things? Consider Scripture, Matthew 25: 34-40
Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. (35) For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, (36) I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ (37) Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? (38) And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? (39) And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ (40) And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Jesus urges His disciples to love others as if they loved Christ Himself. We too, as followers and disciples of Jesus must be intentional and generous in our love of others, including our neighbors near and far, familiar and foreign.
Simply put, when we love, we show Christ’s love to the world.
Consider the moon and the mystery of its light. The moon itself is not a source of light but is dependent upon the sun in order to shine at night. We too as God’s people need the love of the Son to fill us so that we can reflect His love to the world. There may be times in our lives when the light may be dim or seem blocked, but let us continue to draw strength from the Son so that we can be lights to the world.
We are blessed to bless others, loved to love others, given so that we may give, forgiven so that we may forgive.
Lighthouse family, the time is now. Let us be moons to our neighbors and shine the light of the Son!
Daniel Smeltzer is passionate about international outreach and missions. God brought him to Lighthouse after a summer mission trip with The Navigators to Tokyo, Japan. While at Lighthouse, he met Jolene through the Spectrum International Student ministry, and the two have been married since December 2012. His career is in Supply Chain and Logistics focused on Sales, Consulting, and Operations Management. His personal interests include Ultimate Frisbee, travel, and board games.
For more information on Ligthouse’s International Student Ministry, Spectrum, click here.
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