Welcome to Articles Club, an online reading community focused on unearthing the art of eating and creating a home. It’s hosted by Andrea DeVries and Abigail Murrish who take turns sharing pertinent articles on their blogs every Monday and asking questions to spur lively and kind conversation. To learn more about Articles Club and the folks behind it, click here and here.
This week's article convicted me in a big way. I've often lamented, "I don't know our neighbors...." when in actuality, my yearning for "good neighbors" is only exacerbated by my inaction to be a good neighbor. In this article from The Gospel Coalition, Stevens makes excellent points, and some excellent discussion about why the culture of most neighborhoods can feel a bit aloof. We notice this a lot in Austin, a city where there are arguably more "transplant people" than born-and-raised (or born and brewed as this mural at a local pizza place notes) Austinites. Everyone's new, so it's easier to keep to ourselves, right? That mentality is the temptation, anyway. I love how this article doesn't stop at highlighting a social issue in many neighborhoods, but he follows it up with a challenge—one that calls my heart to action. Here's the beginning of the article, and the rest can be found by clicking the Finish the Article link below.
To Love Your Neighbor, You Must Know Your Neighbor - Ben Stevens
Having recently moved into an anonymous apartment complex so common around the country, my wife and I decided to invite all the people in our building over for Sunday lunch. They didn't know each other, we didn't know them, and we had no idea how it would be received. But most of them came. In fact, they stayed for four hours. And before long we were making up a list of our birthdays to exchange with one another, at their suggestion.
When we moved into the complex, we thought a lot about "how hard it is to meet your neighbors." And when we discussed the idea of a get-together with the few people we knew in our building, they also commented that it is "tough to have community in the suburbs." But we were all wrong. It is not difficult to get to know your neighbors—it is simply not something most of us value.
The result is a culture of seclusion, and that culture strains our society in a surprising number of ways. Christians stand a better chance of changing the social landscape than anyone else. In fact, this societal problem presents us with the opportunity to confront that most elusive of all evangelical goals: to serve Christ and our neighbors in the surrounding culture at the same time.
Discussion Questions (I'd love to hear your thoughts! The questions are just a tool, use them if you'd like to, but really I'm just interested to hear what resonated with you.)
1. Does your neighborhood have a communal feel and/or regular get-togethers? If so, how is this maintained?
2. Stevens writes, "It is not difficult to get to know your neighbors—it is simply not something most of us value." Do you agree/disagree?
3. As Christians the Bible explicitly commands us to "Love your neighbor." Stevens leaves us with this: "Let us be resolved to undertake this kind of work confident that it is a legitimate end unto itself, that our culture deserves our attention, and that God will call us to account for the time spent serving neighbors." How can we transition from viewing community in our neighborhoods as nice to have to viewing it as something we are responsible for?
4. Do you have any other helpful tips for building confidence in those of us (myself!) who are ready to take action?
Join us next Monday on Abby's blog for another article discussion!