20 Sep Discussion Guide: The Art of Neighboring Week 2
What “Next Steps” did you take over the past week in attempting to connect with your neighbors? How did that go?
Take some time to pray for your neighborhoods/neighbors as we begin this series. Ask God to open doors and give you a heart and a desire to love your neighbors as you love yourself.
To begin the discussion, watch The Art of Neighboring video for week 2.
What was your big take away from this video? What did you like? What was difficult or confusing?
Matthew 6:25-26, 31-33
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
How do Jesus’ words here confront the busyness of our lives and point us towards God’s command to prioritize loving our neighbors?
Fear and insecurity are the things that tend to keep us chasing after the urgent and neglecting that which is important. It is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of disappointing someone or letting someone down, the insecurity that we’re not as productive, or successful as someone else. All of these things keep us working longer hours, enrolling our children in more sports or activities, and chasing after the elusive feeling that we have finally gotten ahead of the curve. Jesus steps into all of that and says, “Peace. Be still.” He says listen, your Father, who just so happens to be the King of the Universe and can do whatever He pleases, loves you more than you can imagine. He loves you more than anything else in all of creation, and yet the rest of creation keeps on thriving and surviving. How much more will He provide for you all that you have need of. So stop stressing about what other people may think about you or how big your house is, or how many hours you feel you need to spend striving for more, because your Father will take of you. And when you stop stressing and focusing on all of that peripheral stuff then you can start focusing on what is actually important…God’s Kingdom. Which is to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus is telling us that when we can rest in God’s provision then we will margin in our lives and the ability to seek after and respond to that which God desires for us to do. We can spend more time in deep and meaningful relationships with others rather than running on the hamster wheel of consumerism and cultural expectations.
Charles E. Hummel, Tyranny of the Urgent
“Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.”
What is the difference between something that is urgent and something that is important?
When something is urgent it means it is immediate, it is pressing. It is something that must be dealt with and addressed now. It is an issue that is right in front of your face. It is the proverbial tree that keeps you from seeing the forest. Something that is important is that which matters more than other things. Important means it takes priority, it is something that needs to get done. Something that is urgent may not necessarily be important, and something important may not necessarily be important. Sometimes it can be both, but typically if we can keep our eyes on what is important then we will find ourselves dealing less and less with things that are urgent. You see urgency tends to result from lack of planning or lack of focus. Things sneak up on you. But, if you can stay focused on what out to be prioritized then things are less likely to sneak up on you and you can schedule and react in a timely fashion rather than constantly feeling like you are in crisis mode.
How have you seen the urgent crowd out the important in your own life?
John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted
“Love and hurry are fundamentally incompatible. Love always takes time, and time is the one thing hurried people don’t have.”
What does it even mean to love our neighbors?
The Biblical concept of love is to make a sacrificial commitment for the wellbeing without expecting anything in return. To love our neighbors is to seek their wellbeing even if it makes us uncomfortable, or if it costs us something. It is to believe the best about our neighbors, to extend hospitality to them, to seek out relationship and opportunities to serve them. It means we put away our personal agendas and cultural bias, meet people where they are and love them there first.
Discuss the following myths and how you see them impacting our culture.
– I won’t always bee this busy. Things will settle down someday.
– I just need a little more of ________ to make me happy.
– Everybody lives like this. Busyness is just how life goes.
Which of the three myths do you struggle with the most? How does that reveal itself in your life?
How does the Truth of the Gospel free us from being slaves to the urgent and allow us to prioritize what’s truly important?
If fear and insecurity are the motivators behind living a life of urgency then the Gospel frees us from that because the Gospel tells us that we are both safe and secure, loved and accepted, because of what Jesus has done, not because of anything we can do. And when you realize the King of the Universe, the most important Being in the cosmos, has told you that you are loved and valued then the opinions and perceptions of others tend to fall to the wayside. The love of Christ frees us from feeling the pressure to chase after success or reputation and allows us to be who God designed us to be…vessels through which His glory and His Kingdom can come to earth as it is in heaven.
Imagine yourself with the time it would take to be a great neighbor. What are the things you would have to sacrifice to make that a reality? Why would it be worth it? What could change in your life or in your neighborhood?
At the conclusion of each gathering we will do 3 things. Often groups lose track of time and end up rushing through the second half of the content. We strongly believe that these 3 exercises are the most important part of this study. If you only have time to do one section each week…do this one!
Do the Block Map – Take out the block map and fill it in right now… just start with the names of your neighbors. Download Block Map here.
Go around the room and share how many of the names you knew? Did you have any epiphanies as you did this exercise? What did you learn or feel as a result of doing this exercise? Most people naturally feel a little guilty when they realize how little they know about their neighbors. Allow people to feel what they feel, but this is definitely NOT the time to try to make people feel guilty or that they are not doing enough. Allow God to work on people in HIS timing. As a host you might feel like you should know more of your neighbors since you are a host. Avoid that temptation. We are all on this journey together and we all have room to grow. Let people see you are real and honest and that you don’t have it all figured out either. Your group will trust you more for your honesty! Write the names of your neighbors by listing out the names of the adults and children of the 8 closest houses or apartment units next to you. Pay attention to the blank spaces Take a second and identify each of the neighbors and decide if they are a stranger, acquaintance, or relationship.
Identify one neighbor that you are going to pray for during the next week. Take time to pray in the group for the neighbors that were mentioned.
Share one small “next step” that you feel God is calling you to take in the next 7 days.