Christian Neighbors

October 7, 2009 | 14 comments
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When my neighbor four-doors-down called last night and asked if I could take dinner to my neighbor three-doors-down, I said yes. I’m a Mormon mom: dinner for a single, middle-aged man is no problem. It was the circumstances that made me pause.

I do not know all the reasons why the neighbors four-doors-down have been less active in the church for years, nor do I know what has prompted their slow but steady return to activity. What I know is that they are kind and decent; they are the type of down-to-earth people who, upon learning about a load of free railroad ties, call all the neighbors to see if anyone else wants some—and then go, pick up the load in their work truck, and unload the dozen ties that you want right next to the garden you are trying to edge.

I do not talk my neighbor three-doors-down very often. I wave and smile when I see him. Unfortunately, years of living surrounded by well-meaning, but at times overzealous and conversion-oriented Mormons has made my born again Christian neighbor reticent and sometimes hostile. My decent, less active neighbor may be the only person in my neighborhood that my Christian neighbor talks to on a consistent basis (besides his mom, who lives two doors down).  I’m just glad someone learned about his sudden seizure, the small brain tumor, and surgery that occurred this week.

During the next few days, a parade of well-meaning Mormons will bring casseroles to their born again Christian brother—all arranged by the Christ-like neighbors we don’t always see at church.

The Lord moves in mysterious ways. At times I catch a glimpse of His pattern and stand back in awe. It’s a joy to play my small part and learn. Like I said, dinner is no problem.

14 Responses to Christian Neighbors

  1. Kirk C on October 7, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Nice thought for the day.

  2. Silus Grok on October 7, 2009 at 10:25 am

    * tears up *

    Thank you.

  3. Hunter on October 7, 2009 at 11:01 am

    “The Lord moves in mysterious ways.” Amen, and amen.

    Sometimes, I stop and contemplate my imperfections, and I look around at the imperfect people who surround me in my imperfect neighborhood, in our imperfect Ward, in our imperfect city, and I have to remind myself that this is it. This is life. This is God moving in our lives. Yes, it’s messy, but, that’s how God rolls.

  4. Sonny on October 7, 2009 at 11:20 am

    Hunter,

    You have expressed what I have been thinking lately, and expressed it much more beautifully than I ever could.

  5. DavidH on October 7, 2009 at 11:55 am

    It is wonderful when we help others with no thought of receiving anything in return (including the possibility of the recipient’s deciding to investigate the Church). I wonder if your evangelical neighbor was previously more comfortable interacting with a less active Mormon because (1) being inactive in Church does allow more time to interact with people outside of our faith community, and the inactive neighbor was therefore more available, or (2) the evangelical neighbor, rightly or wrongly, suspected that active LDS viewed him more as a potential convert than anything else. In any event, kudos to all the neighbors for supporting, unconditionally, the neighbor in need.

  6. Kylie on October 7, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Well said, Hunter #3. You’re reminding of Eugene England’s “Why the Church is as True as the Gospel.” It’s time for a re-read.

    DavidH, I’m sure you’re partially right in both suppositions. I think my evangelical neighbor also likes our other neighbor for personal reasons. He and his wife are the genuine thing–hence arranging the meals and help without being asked, told, or assigned. They do good because they are good. Who could help but enjoy being around that type of person?

  7. Marc Bohn on October 7, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    Thanks for this Kylie.

  8. CJ Douglass on October 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    Seen it happen so many times Kylie. On my mission in So. Utah, we taught people, more than once, that were referred by their less-active neighbors…

  9. Stephanie on October 7, 2009 at 2:40 pm

    This service is the heart of Christianity. Recently we had a family with major needs in another ward in our stake. Between our two wards and the rest of the stake, we could hardly get enough people to volunteer to staff the most basic needs. It really made me sad. (They have recently moved to another area where they appear to be getting more help) What is the test of our discipleship? Is it to be in the pew 5 minutes early with perfect clothes and perfect children? Is it to attend every ward activity? Or is it to actually help when there is a need? It definitely served as a wake-up call to me.

  10. Raymond Takashi Swenson on October 7, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Matthew 25 and Mosiah 3 make clear that the Lord’s criteria for judging us will focus on how we manifest love for our neighbors. The things we do in the church are part of that: Teaching, home and visiting teaching, bearing testimony in meetings, administering the Sacrament, counseling, arranging personal aid for the sick and the poor, donating tithes and fast offerings and missionary support and the Perpetual Education Fund, performing temple ordinances for the deceased. We can be far more effective in giving many kinds of help as we work together in our wards and stakes, versus efforts made just by ourselves. That is what the parable of the talents is about: Using our callings to bless others and increase righteousness and happiness, thus “magnifying” our callings.

    That of course does not mean that we are limited to helping within the structures of the church. We have been given, with our moral agency, the ability to accomplish much righteousness without being asked or directed. For example, I have been edified and enlightened by many of the postings and comments that you all have offered here at timesandseasons.org, including this one.

  11. Kent Larsen on October 7, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    CJ Douglass (8), I thought every missionary knew that the less active members were the place to get referrals. Too often active members don’t know many non-members.

  12. DavidH on October 7, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    “The things we do in the church are part of that: Teaching, home and visiting teaching, bearing testimony in meetings, administering the Sacrament, counseling, arranging personal aid for the sick and the poor, donating tithes and fast offerings and missionary support and the Perpetual Education Fund, performing temple ordinances for the deceased. We can be far more effective in giving many kinds of help as we work together in our wards and stakes, versus efforts made just by ourselves. That is what the parable of the talents is about: Using our callings to bless others and increase righteousness and happiness, thus ‘magnifying’ our callings.”

    Nothing wrong with that. But I think that illustrates the dilemma for Latter-day Saints–many of us, including me, focus so much of our energy on this service organized by the Church that we are left with less time or energy left for individual, unscripted service, particularly to those outside our faith community. It may be that our brothers and sisters who are “less active” in the formally organized service of our community have more time and energy to nurture non-missionary-minded friendships with those outside our faith community and perform such individual unscripted acts of service. And (irony alert ahead) perhaps the Samaritan who stopped to help could do so, in part, because he was not on his way to an important religious meeting. (Hat tip, for the last sentence, to Elder Franklin D. Richards of the 70.)

  13. Kylie on October 7, 2009 at 10:58 pm

    “We are left with less time or energy left for individual, unscripted service, particularly to those outside our faith community.”

    I think this is a wise insight, DavidH. The problem I see–and that you are hinting at–is that we might be missing the real motivation/reason to serve: Christlike love and charity. Hopefully we’re doing all of our organized service with good motivations, but it’s always good to step back and check. If our service hearts are in the right place, we probably will find time and energy to serve organizationally and individually.

  14. m&m on October 9, 2009 at 3:22 am

    DavidH, if we are taking our callings seriously, imo, we will include those not of our faith as part of our ‘ward’ responsibilities. We have stewardships over those in our ward boundaries, and ward councils ought to be discussing ways to serve those in their area in general, not just ward members.

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