What if Jesus meant for you to love your neighbors? …Your actual neighbors.
“But when the Pharisees heard that [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22: 34-39 ESV (emphasis added)
In this passage we see the Pharisees ask a tough question with the hope of stumping Jesus, or at least tricking him into saying something they could use against him later.
Instead of stumbling into the trap, Jesus tackled the question head on. The Pharisees didn’t have to wonder what Jesus wanted his followers to do, and neither do we: love God, and love your neighbor.
Simple enough, right?
But so often, we hyper-spiritualize these instructions. We assume that Jesus meant that we should love all people, which is well and good and hard to argue. But in that thinking, it’s easy to skim this passage without being challenged – without getting to where Jesus is trying to get us. The ambiguity of our well-meaning definition leads to ambiguity in our love, which translates to a nice sentiment without a lot of action behind it.
What if, instead of a sweeping, all-encompassing instruction to show love to the world, Jesus was saying exactly what he meant?
What if Jesus meant that we should love our actual neighbors?
Clear Creek Community Church’s vision in planting churches and campuses is rooted in the belief that the gospel moves along relational lines.
People who have been transformed by the gospel of Jesus Christ want others to be transformed too.
What we’ve learned from planting three campuses is that people are three times more likely to get connected in a church if it is close to where they live.
If more and more of Christ’s people live in close proximity to unchurched people, then we have more and more potential to reach not only our friends and families, but our entire neighborhood and their friends and families, and not only our neighborhoods, but our entire geography.
Don’t believe me? Check out this map.
This is a representation of the population of Clear Creek Community Church. Our people in our neighborhoods, with each dot representing a home of a CCCC family, color-specific to which campus they attend.
Let’s zoom in a little further.
This is one neighborhood in League City. As you can see, someone from CCCC lives on almost every street.
In one meeting, as we were building a launch team for our East 96 campus, we challenged our people to sketch out a map of their street and the houses around their own. Then we challenged them to write the names of the people that live in those houses, and to list the physical and spiritual needs of those people.
It was a convicting exercise for many, because not everyone was able to complete the task and many struggled to even list their neighbors’ names.
What if we started there?
What if we took the challenge to love our neighbors this summer? What if we invited them into our own homes, and shared a meal together? What if we invited them to worship alongside us at a campus that was really close to where they live?
We launch our East 96 Campus this weekend. Our team is inviting everyone they know – including the people who live on their street. But that isn’t just something launch teams do, and it’s not just an important exercise for new campuses to take part in.
It’s for every man, woman and child that calls themself a follower of Christ.
What if God purposefully planted your family in your specific home, in your specific neighborhood, with your specific neighbors, so that you would take his love to that place in a way no one else could?
– Aaron Lutz, East 96 Campus Pastor