Yesterday I had the opportunity to serve my next door neighbor in a unique way by taking him to the hospital at 4:30 a.m. for knee surgery. Instead of simply dropping him off, I decided to stay with him until they took him back for pre-op. I also stayed in the waiting room throughout the surgery and visited with him in post-op. I even got to stand in for his wife and meet with his doctor, who relayed the pertinent information to me so I could pass it onto his wife. When his wife got to the hospital, she was shocked that I had stayed with her husband the whole time.
I was grateful for the opportunity to be the presence of Christ to them in a time of need.
That evening, my neighbor’s son brought me this on behalf of his dad:
How about that?!
Of course, I didn’t serve my neighbor because I thought I might get candy and Starbucks. I did it because we’re neighbors, and neighbors help each other out. He has helped me several times and is always willing to lend a hand.
And that’s my experience with most people I meet and know.
I realize there are serious issues in our society, but we are not as divided as what the media portrays. Just look at what’s happening in Houston:
But even apart from a catastrophic event, the kind of spirit exemplified by that photo is on display in nearly every place of which I am aware.
Every day in ordinary ways neighbors help neighbors, people of different races work harmoniously together, those of various ethnicities do business together, and churches of contrasting faiths serve their communities together.
For some reason, these are the stories that don’t get told. Maybe it’s because those stories are so typical that they’re not sensational enough to sell newspapers and TV ads or get website clicks. But they are happening.
Just last week I hosted the monthly meeting of a group of ministers from different churches in Norman. We talked about how we can help those enslaved by addictions in our community and how each of our congregations responded to the events in Charlottesville, Virginia. Next month we will consider how we, as faith leaders, can support education in our state. Even though we don’t agree on every issue, we come together as neighbors seeking ways that we can serve our neighbors.
This really isn’t that extraordinary because people all over this country come together in big and small ways to serve the people of their communities.
So, why don’t more people seem to know this?
Maybe more people need to watch less cable news on TV and interact more with their neighbors.
Maybe more people need to update their Facebook status less and have more real conversations with their neighbors.
Maybe more people need to focus less on the differences they have with their neighbors and spend more time connecting with their neighbors over their common humanity.
Because Jesus was right: life truly is better when you love your neighbor.