The Gospel and my Neighbors

The Gospel starts in your home, but it doesn’t stay there. As people discover the joy of Jesus, they cannot help but tell others, but where do they start? Believers, who want to be obedient to the Great Commission, should decide who they should present the Gospel to first. Where do I begin my task of getting the Gospel to every home? Let me propose that the first place you can start could be the house right next door.

        In Acts 1:8, Jesus told his disciples that they would witnesses in, “. . . Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8 is often used to encourage missions in our town (Jerusalem), our Judea (state), our Samaria (nation), and then the rest of the world. In addition to viewing Acts 1:8 in terms of geography, we may also view Acts 1:8 relationally.[1]   Consider the following:

My Jerusalem –> My lost family members.

My Judea –> My lost friends.

My Samaria –> My lost neighbors.

        The Gospel will immediately impact those who are closest to you. Your spouse, children, and parents will immediately see the change Jesus has brought into your life. In addition to your family, your close friends will also see a difference. These friends may be life long friends or people who have recently come into your life, but they are still close enough to have shared many experiences with you. Lost friends and family members are prime candidates with whom you can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, it may be more difficult for you to share the Gospel with your next-door neighbor.

The Garage Door Culture

        There was a time in our culture where everyone sat on their front porch. Whether you lived in suburbia or in an urban setting, you would have known your neighbors by name, and they would have known your name. Culture has changed. People no longer sit on their front porches but instead retire to their backyards (often surrounded by a privacy fence). Also, many of us do not know the names of those who live across the street from us.

        Not only has there been a migration from the front porch to the back porch, but there has also been the introduction of automatic garage doors. These garage doors also increase our distance from our neighbors. With a click of a button, you are now free from having to interact with any neighbors. You pull your car into your garage, close the door behind you, and then move to the back yard (protected from neighbors) with a privacy fence. Neighborhoods have never been more isolated than they are today.

          You may feel a temptation to remain isolated. It will be easier to present the Gospel to those we are closer to, but it is essential not to neglect our neighbors. Jesus himself told us to love our neighbors. The Great Commandment states,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind., 38 This is the greatest and most important command. 39 The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself., 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”[2]

        I cannot imagine a more significant act of love than sharing the Gospel with your neighbor. The Gospel is the good news of salvation from sin. Without Jesus Christ, a person cannot enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3, 14:6). If we truly love our neighbors, we will bring the Gospel to their homes. Since we don’t always have close relationships with our neighbors, we may want to think about building Gospel bridges to the houses across the street from us.

  [1] I first discovered this idea in Oscar Thompsons Concentric Circles of Concern. His book is suggested for a better understanding of how the Gospel moves along the lines of relationships.

[2] Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Mt 22:37–40.

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