How Are You Extending the Love of Christ in Your Neighborhood?
Being a homeschool family naturally makes you stand out in a neighborhood. It becomes obvious after your neighbors realize your children don’t walk to the bus stop. The next comment usually goes something like, “What school do your children attend?” or “I never see your children at the bus stop.” If you’ve homeschooled for even a month or two, you begin to realize that people become curious about what you do all day with your children. These conversations with your neighbors (once you get used to them) are a good opportunity to share the benefits and success of home education. For the christian homeschooler, it is also a really great time to share the love of Christ with the folks living right around you.
Here are a few things our family tries to do regularly
when we’re out in our neighborhood.
1. We speak to people.
I’m chuckling as I type this, because the fact that I’m making it a point to say that we speak to our neighbors is indicative of the type of world in which we live. People rarely talk to each other anymore. My husband and I intentionally try to say hello to our neighbors when we see them...we say it audibly...loud enough from them to hear us. :-) And when we speak or wave, we actually wait for a response. We’re not giving a half-hearted “hello” while walking hurriedly into our front door. I’ve learned to linger a bit when I speak to our neighbors and not be in such a rush. If you study the Gospels, Christ spent a great deal of time talking to people. A simple question posed by Christ or a heartfelt conversation he had with someone, led to sinful people repenting and believing the gospel. Never underestimate the Lord’s ability to work through the small conversations you have with people. Are you prepared to give an answer for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15)?
2. Treat your neighbor as you’d like to be treated.
There is a tree that sits at the foot of our driveway. Recently, the wind had knocked down quite a few small branches into our yard and our neighbor’s yard. As our children were outside playing, I asked them to pick up all the branches; those in our yard and the few that had fallen on our neighbor’s yard. For me, it was a matter of principle. Did our neighbor ask us to pick up the branches? No, he didn’t. Could we have ignored the branches and continued on as normal? Yes, we sure could have! I was trying to teach our children a lesson in being good neighbors. To them, picking up the branches was a small, mundane task. The greater lesson for them was that we want to show our neighbors that we are just as concerned about their well being as we are about our own. We cleaned up the branches and did it without expecting anything in return. It was simply the right thing to do.
3. Be kind...even if it’s not welcomed or reciprocated.
Want to know the funny thing about neighbors? Sometimes, they aren’t that nice. Sometimes your cheerful hello might be greeted with a grunt or a grumble. Sometimes your neighbor’s dog might feel that your front yard is the best place to handle its “business.” You may be dealing with a neighbor who comes in at the wee hours of the morning with the music blaring in his car! In these instances, can you still find it in your heart to be kind? We’ve been blessed to have great neighbors, but we have had occasions in the past where things haven’t been that pleasant. Having to go to your neighbor and ask him to be more respectful of your property is not an easy thing to do, but my husband has had to do that on a few occasions. Even then, the goal has been to resolve the conflict in the quickest, most Christ-like manner. We’ve grown to understand that we may not have close relationships with all of our neighbors, but we will at minimum strive to be respectful to everyone.
Every home is different and the lengths to which you go to share the gospel in your communities might vary. The Lord may call you to do a community cookout. You might give out a basket of goodies to each of your neighbors during the Christmas season. Or it may simply be checking in on an elderly family down the street. Homeschoolers have been blessed with the unique opportunity to be fixtures in their neighborhoods. People’s curiosity about what we do can be the springboard for great conversations and even ministry opportunities. May the Lord use our families to share the love of Christ and his gospel...for his glory alone!