This weekend just been, someone told me that she really liked the honesty in my last post, so here goes with a new one.
In some ways, loving the physical neighbours my husband and I have is really easy and quite a joy. We live in a community of other students from college and there’s so many ways that we love and support each other. We share meals, pray together, drive in to college together, pick each other up from the airport (thanks so much to those who did this for us this weekend!). It’s (mostly) easy to love Christians and I absolutely love living in our community.
But if we love only those who love us, that doesn’t say much. It is good for Christians to love each other, as this is an example to the world (John 13:35), but that’s not enough.
Matthew 5:46 says “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” Anyone can love those who love them. It’s harder to love those who don’t love you. Jesus said that we should love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us so that we may be children of God (Matthew 5:44-45).
Not all of the units in our block are owned by the college, so there are some non-college residents around us. Both the units on either side of us house non-college residents. On one side is a guy who smokes.
I find it hard to love this neighbour.
He smokes outside his front door (it’s good that he’s outside because he has a toddler in the house) and the smell gets into our house. I have a very low tolerance to cigarette smoke. I think the smell is utterly disgusting. I was so pleased when my university made it’s grounds a smoke-free zone. I guess you can get used to the smell after a while, but I don’t want to get used to it. Though my husband thinks I’m being over-dramatic, I also worry about what it’s doing to my lungs.
But I’m too scared to ask our neighbour to smoke somewhere else because he’s been known to yell a bit sometimes. I don’t want him to have anything against me, while I hold something against him.
While I don’t consider this neighbour an enemy by any means (except maybe to my lungs?), I know I don’t love him either. Jesus says I should pray for him, and that’s what my husband and I have been doing. So I’ve added another thing to the list of what we pray for our neighbours. Rather than pray that he would move away, I am praying that he would stop smoking, and I think that’s the loving thing to pray.