Showing God’s Love in a Practical Way

Jesus said we are supposed to love our neighbors. (Matthew 22:39). We often take that passage to mean how we ought to love the poorest of the poor in our city or on the other side of the world. And we should. But I think we often miss other “neighbors” in the process.

Mother Teresa once said, “I want you to be concerned about your next door neighbor. Do you know your next door neighbor?” 

Do you feel as convicted from the quote as I do?

Kellie and I moved to Shelby Township back in 2004, just a few months after we were married. Over that time we have gotten to know our next door neighbors about as well as most Americans do nowadays. (Which isn’t saying much). We know their names and their kids’ names and chat every once in a while. We even talked with our neighbors directly behind us about having a BBQ this summer. They seemed interested. I hope we follow through.

But one neighbor has been an exception. Because our lot is more wide than deep, the house immediately to the north of us is about 50 feet away from ours and on an angle facing away from our front porch. Because of that we don’t naturally interact with them as much as our other neighbors.

Until this past Monday.

His name is Jerry and his wife’s name escapes me as I write this. That’s how well I know them. A super tall cottonwood tree on their side of the property line lost a *massive* branch during a windstorm a week ago (this “branch” is the size of some trees!) The bulk of it landed in our garden, taking out our anti-rabbit-fencing in the process.

This past Monday I was looking forward to a day of relaxation. It’s my Sabbath day. But around 9am Kellie noticed Jerry was outside with his chainsaw, ready to cut up the fallen branch.

I knew this was a moment to practice what I preached. The previous day at The Eastside Vineyard I preached a message called “Conspiracy of Kindness” which was all about showing God’s love in practical ways. As followers of Jesus we are called to do good, to love our neighbors with no-strings-attached. Pastor Steve Sjogren said, God is looking for people who believe that a humble demonstration of love plants a seed of eternity in the hearts of others that will blossom into faith in Christ. 

It’s easy to preach about showing God’s love in practical ways, but it’s a lot harder to practice it . . . especially on your day off.

Thankfully, I rejected the dozen excuses that instantly popped into my head about why I shouldn’t help Jerry. I headed outdoors and asked him if he needed a hand. Did I mention he is 70-years-old? Did I mention how huge this branch was?

He gladly accepted.

I spent the next hour or so “loving my neighbor” by helping him cut up this branch. Kellie and the kids came out. Jerry’s wife came out. We had pleasant conversation about the weather.

When we wrapped things up, he expressed his gratitude for the extra set of hands. And that was it — this time around.

Maybe next time I’ll be able to recall his wife’s name. Maybe next time God will guide the conversation to talk about matters of faith. Who knows what next time will hold. But there needed to be a “this time” before there could be a “next time.”

***Join us this Sunday at The Eastside Vineyard Church. We are continuing our story-by-story look in the the Gospel of Matthew as we’ll unpack a fascinating passage that focuses on the Jewishness of Jesus and His original audience — Matthew 5:17-20. Sunday. June 19th (Father’s Day!). 6pm. More info at tevchurch.org***

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About Dan Kopp

In 2010 Dan and Kellie felt the call by God to plant a church somewhere in Macomb County, Michigan. Several months later The Eastside Vineyard Church launched and currently meets inside Shelby Jr. High in Shelby Township. This blog began in the pre-launch phase of the church and has exceeded 50,000 hits. Thanks for reading!
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One Response to Showing God’s Love in a Practical Way

  1. loretta says:

    I am blessed to know & have relationships with all my neighbors !! Live in an awesome sub , where we interact with each other on a regular basis . But , in the beginning it wasn’t exactly like that . I was a “part time ” follower of Christ . By that I mean , I went to KCC, volunteered , etc., but wasn’t ALWAYS putting my Faith into action & not always showing the best side of God !!
    My relationship with those of “different religions & ethnic backgrounds “, left a lot to be desired !!! My neighbor to the east of my house was Jehovah Witness , west side was Muslim, across the street Catholic, and to the right Hindu !! Me in the middle !! I often made a joke of HOW GOD was “REALLY” testing me !!
    Prior to Mark’s suicide , it was NOT the best of relationship’s with the neighbor’s directly to each of my sides. The others’ ,we were indeed attached . God was about to show me about FAITH in action . As all the ambulance’s & rescue were gathering at what was the most horrible time in my life , I was unaware of what was taking place, as I was following them to the hospital . My neighbor’s (Jim & Cindy ) the Jehovah witness’s prayed with ALL the other neighbor’s in the middle of the street !!! For Mark as well as me !! They reached out at the hospital & as soon as I landed back home , 9 long days later, were here to reach out and stepped up & still do on a regular basis !!
    At a point in time , I shared how my actions in the past , where NOT the actions I should have shown. I repented to them & ask them to forgive me ( had long since ask God to forgive me !!) I ask them to forgive me for NOT being the best example of a CHRIST follower ~ I completely repented to them !!
    We have a very good relationship now , they would do anything for me !! I would for them , as well !! We share our prayers together & our dog’s play with each other & we get a lot of laughs watching them interact !! JUST the other day , Cindy mentioned WHAT a different person I had become !! Even though we both agreed , we don’t share the same “religious views “, she said she saw some thing special going on , in a positive way !! I share what God does for me ALL the time with her . Talk about TEVC all the time , how we are a “PRAYING” Church & how our young Pastor , Dan Kopp , calls us on to do His will , “ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN” !! Just another example of how I am blessed !!
    Your BLOGS are indeed so inspiring & shows leading by example . I couldn’t be prouder of Kellie & you !!

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