Regular church attenders know that “love your neighbour” is one of the most important commandments in the Bible.
We also know that many of us ignore that command.
Over the last few weeks, six local churches have been preaching the same message in their weekly services. Together we have been focusing on that great commandment, but also facing the fact that there are two major forces that get in the way of us obeying it.
The first major challenge we all have is time.
Dallas Willard was a writer who had a big impact on a number of Christian leaders through the 1990’s and 2000’s. He asserted that you “must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life, for hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our world today.” I think I would take it a step further and say that hurry is the great enemy of life of any sort.
The technological devices that were supposed to save us so much time, have in fact done the opposite. As a society we have more and more Facebook friends and less and less real relationships.
The second major challenge we have is fear.
It’s not easy to connect with people, particularly people who are not like you. It is easier to congregate with people who think, talk and act in ways that you are comfortable with.
It is interesting that Jesus continually attracted criticism from religious people because of the company He kept. He lived from the truth that “perfect love casts out fear”.
St. Albert is one of the best places in Canada to live, and therefore one of the best places to live in the world. Even here though, we need to take a long hard look at what it means to really connect with our neighbours.
In addition to the fact that the Bible says loving your neighbour is important, all the sociological data points to the significant impact that this one simple strategy could have on all kinds of indicators like crime, health and the economy of the city.
We need to make the time, and we need to get past our fears. To help with this, the churches in St. Albert launched the Good Neighbour Project in conjunction with the City and Neighbourhood Watch.
The purpose of the Good Neighbour Project is extremely simple: we want to see a Block Party on every block in St. Albert.
We have created a website where it is possible to sign up at one of three levels: to simply attend, to assist with coordination or to coordinate a Block Party.
We want to go from 100 block parties in 2015, to 150 in 2016. This would represent unprecedented growth, propelling us towards our big long term goal.
About half the people who are signing up at goodnieghbourproject.org are not currently members of any local church or partner organization. This is very encouraging.
If we are to truly reach our goal, it will be a whole community effort that gets us there.
Join the team!
Community Engagement & Mission Pastor
St. Albert Alliance Church
First Published, St. Albert Gazette, Saturday 30th April.