I love short-term mission trips. Many of my most significant spiritual break throughs, both as a participant and as a pastor, have come on trips to far away places doing exotic things.
But I can’t run from the fact that Jesus has called me to a Long-term Mission trip right in my neighborhood.
To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Try as I might– wish as I might– I can’t get away from the plain instructions of Jesus. Next to loving God with all my heart Jesus tells me, oh and it hurts, to love my neighbor as myself.
Jesus didn’t tell me to love my church as myself. Or love the people I like as I love myself. Or love my kids/wife/dog/cat/garden/golf clubs/Notre Dame Fighting Irish like myself.
He said I should love my neighbors as I love myself.
Some annoying facts about the Long-Term Mission trips
- If you’re lucky you get to pick where you live. But you don’t get to pick your neighbors.
- There’s a high likelihood that Jesus, being God and all, picked your neighbors.
- He knows how annoying some of them are. And how grumpy that one guy with the lawn mower is. And just how hard to find that one family is.
- I’ve tried it so I can confirm that it is impossible to love your neighbors if you don’t know their names. You should rectify that. Like today.
- In order to love your neighbors your going to have to re-prioritize your time. This might be a good time to remind you that Jesus said this was like the #2 thing in his eyes. Yes, even above being in a small group.
- I don’t know what you consider an “act of love.” But if someone just waved at me for months without even stopping to say hi, I wouldn’t feel all that loved.
- You’re probably going to have to meet in the middle to love your neighbor as yourself. As in, you’ll need to love yourself a little less in order to love your neighbor “as yourself.”
- Unlike a short-term mission trip, this thing is going to cost you money and you won’t be able to send letters to your friends asking for reimbursement. Well, you can try.
- The longer you know someone the harder it is to love them as you love yourself. Amazingly, I’ve known myself 35 years and I’m pretty good at loving myself.
- As much as I’ve looked at the Greek and read commentaries, I can’t find wiggle room in Jesus’ words for “convenience” or “waiting for the right time.” Instead, I’m pretty sure that Jesus’ society, built on close-knit communities, knew exactly what a neighbor was and how hard it would be to love them.
- Speaking of comparisons to ancient times. Be thankful for indoor plumbing. At least you don’t have to love your neighbor despite the fact that their outhouse is upwind of your house.