Older Generation on Mission

April 27, 2016

LOVING OUR NEIGHBORS IN OUR LATER YEARS

Most Christians, if asked, would say that they love God and their neighbor as their self. After all, Jesus called us to be lovers of God with all of our heart, soul, mind, strength, and to love our neighbor as ourself. Yet, often times obedience to this command is understood in a way that excuses us from our call to personally, tangibly bring the good news of Jesus to our neighbors.

LEARNING TO LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS

Our first Sunday at Soma Tacoma in 2006, our hearts were won by the biblical call: ”As gospel believers, you are the church, so go be the church.” In other words, bring Jesus to those you understand to be your neighbor, rather than simply inviting them to come to a church event.

Since my wife Bunny and I are retired, our neighbors were, for the most part, those literally next door to us, as well as others in our neighborhood. So, we knocked on about ten neighborhood doors two months after buying our home, introducing ourselves and inviting them to brunch. About ten came the first time, met their neighbors, some for the first time, and kept returning in the months and years that followed. This was the beginnings of our missional community.

MISSIONAL COMMUNITY LIFE

Some have quit coming, but our welcome has now extended to 25 homes. For the majority, one connection simply leads to another as neighbors get to know each other. Several neighbors have even opened their homes to host some of our missional community gatherings.

There have been many opportunities through these relationships to tangibly love people. From journeying through the cancer of a neighbor to throwing birthday parties for some who have never been celebrated, we are grateful for the many ways that we are able to both show and share the good news of Jesus with our neighborhood.

We’ve learned through all of this that it really works for the older generation to be on mission. God has prepared us in our later years to be able to interact with and bless people in diverse and wonderful ways. When we reject the lie of self-focused retirement and start to view each day as an opportunity to participate on the mission of Jesus, everything changes.

STAYING THE COURSE

We love our neighbors. We came to live among them and to show and declare to them the grace of God in any way we can. We have hard moments, downcast days and feelings of failure. Jesus had tough days too in his larger neighborhood. Yet, He stayed the course – for us and our neighbor.

It’s never too late to start. You can even apologize for being a slow starter. Transparency and generosity are winsome to many. Figure out what a loving neighbor looks like, sounds like, acts like — with the Great Missionary’s help — and start loving in the ways He opens up. It’s simply the best way to live.