Our first priority, our highest attainment, is always to love God. But if we love God, we will also love our neighbor. Love God AND love your neighbor – there are no commandments greater than these. On these commandments depend the entirety of God’s instruction to us. If we do not love our neighbor, consequently, we do not truly love God.
Loving our neighbor requires a heart transformed by the Gospel. If we love only those who love us, we are no more than a reflection of the world. Instead, we are commanded to love as Jesus loved. We are to love in word and deed, despite differences or barriers. We are to love the sinners, the outcasts, the least of these…we are even to love our enemy.
We have asked God to show us how to be neighbor focused and how to love the Lanark Park neighborhood where we live. After much prayer and consideration we came to the following three principles for being neighbor-focused.
Engage: We want to know, listen, understand, and learn from this neighborhood; We want to walk with our neighbors and build relationships.
Collaborate: We want to partner with our neighbors to understand where and how relationships are broken in the neighborhood - materially, interpersonally, and spiritually; to identify the Gospel need.
Respond: With our neighborhood partners we want to respond to restore those material, interpersonal, and spiritual relationships; to proclaim the Gospel, to teach the Gospel, and do the Gospel.