Both my wife Mandy and I hate shoveling snow, so we recently treated ourselves to a new, small, electric snowblower, and this past week I had the first chance to us it. I had so much fun clearing the driveway and the sidewalk that I rounded up my two daughters, armed them with snow shovels, and started going door-to-door in my neighborhood offering to clear their driveways and sidewalks for free. Part of this was just for an excuse to use the new toy, but part of it also was because I continue to try to find ways to live into Trinity’s call to “Love Our Neighbor(hood).” (Side note: it also got the kids outside and busy.)
For those neighbors who knew me and my family well, we were a welcome visitor. For many who did not know me and my family, we were a pleasant surprise. But what shocked me were the people who had no interest whatsoever in being helped. Even after I told them we were just doing this for fun, we were flatly turned away, even by one person with whom I had a passing acquaintance.
All this got me thinking about the challenges our call to love our neighborhood pose. Christians have asked me from time to time why people didn’t eagerly embrace the Gospel preached by Jesus. There are many reasons, but I suspect one was cynicism: the suspicion that something that seemed to be too good to be true must be false, a scam, a trick. Did my neighbors think I would shake them down for money? Fall down and sue them? Damage their car? Or does their worldview just not account for weird neighbors with shiny new snowblowers wanting to do something good? I suspect strongly if I told them I was doing this on account of my faith, or a particular program in my church, that it would not have helped one bit.
Cynicism and suspicion I suspect will be just one of the things we have to patiently overcome with perseverance and love and we seek to spread the Gospel to our neighbors, our community, and the world.
Yours in Christ,