Being ‘Good’ Neighbours

We seek to extend Christ’s love to our neighbours through our semi-regular family game nights. These gatherings, attended by a diverse group of adults in their 30s or 40s, including Christians and non-Christians, serve as a platform for fostering deeper relationships. The faith context is subtly present, primarily acknowledged through our practice of giving thanks for the food.

When we think about making a difference for the Kingdom and reaching people for Christ, one of the key groups we think of reaching is our close neighbourhood. The two of us recently reread the parable of the good Samaritan, and we got to thinking about who our neighbour is actually. Some live in our nearby streets, which is the more traditional view, but we also include our families, their kids, and friends. They might even live in a different suburb or be on the end of a Zoom call, but they are all people we make a connection with.

In the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10), Jesus shows a yet more expansive view of neighbours: he gives a picture of relationships between Jews and Samaritans, two groups generally marked by deep-rooted hatred and mutual distrust. The tension stemmed from a combination of historical, religious, and cultural differences. The Pharisee walked past the injured Samaritan, choosing not to be a neighbour. He did not consider the man on the road to be one of his own.

Our vision of good neighbourly relations has its challenges. The relationships we build are often fun-filled, but they also confront us with ‘baggage’, post-Christian views, and behaviours that may not align with our traditional values. We have faced situations such as sickness, job loss, and even the death of close family members, which are not easy to manage.

The world’s way of doing relationships is to enjoy whatever makes us feel good and to walk away when it gets challenging or is not life-affirming, just like the Pharisee. In the story of the Samaritan, Jesus spotlights the goodness of not turning away from a neighbour when the relationship becomes challenging, messy, and will personally cost us something.

In our family games night gatherings, there has been a temptation to bail because sharing the gospel has been slow going. Looking at our fun nights through the perspective of this parable, people who come along continue to be neighbours because they keep crossing our path, want to meet with us and enjoy what they experience in our times together. We can live out Jesus’ compassion and presence as we choose to keep turning up, share food and time, and genuinely tune into what’s happening in their lives.

We hope and pray for opportunities to share God’s truth and love in some way. Wonderfully, an opportunity to go deeper happened last week when a person in the group needed a biblical perspective, loving affirmation, and encouragement to step out for healing. We drew our friend into a gentle truth conversation, offering our version of “bandages, oil and wine”.

Philip & Stefi Plimmer, Wellington Community