G.K. Chesterton — ‘The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.’

I thought I was a good neighbour-lover until things got difficult next door.  But real love only shines the way it was meant to when it’s hard to give.  I mean otherwise it’s just self serving, loving those who are loveable, keeping the status quo.  It’s like obedience to authority – it’s only obedience when you don’t really want to do it.  Otherwise it’s just a happy coincidence when you’re asked to do something you wanted to do anyway.  And if I’ve decided to be obedient to Christ then what does he ask of me, above all?  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

So, faced with unreasonableness, unwillingness to compromise, and stone-walling, now is the time that I discover what is really in my heart.  And it’s not good.  I’m only human, and I have every right to do what I want with my trees, to feel aggrieved, to lash out, etc, etc.  But love, the sort of love that can rock the world the way Jesus did, means laying down my rights.  Because, relationship is more important than some trees and a boundary fence.  Like all true wisdom found in religion, it’s about seeing reality as it really is, seeing what’s actually important.

So I’m not pushing it, not chasing anyone, leaving it be, with an open door and occasional offers of help, avoiding mentioning the sticking points.  But when the resentment comes up, and when I look with regret at the ungracious things I have already done, I remind myself of 2 things that put it in perspective:

5 Broken Cameras.  Watch the whole film.  We found it on Netflix.  What a powerful testimony to gracious and non violent resistance in the face of deep injustice.

Dr. James Chinkyung Kim.  Faced with death on the battlefield in the Korean war he pledged to God “If you spare my life this time, I will spend the rest of my life spreading your Love to those who are shooting at me right now.  Instead of aiming the guns at them, I will aim the bullets of your words and Love”.  Decades later he has done the impossible and founded a University in Pyongyang with Christian love at it’s heart, and the cooperation of the regime.  With an interlude of torture in a North Korean prison.  Unbelievable but true.

He says “political and economic efforts alone cannot bring about peace; such efforts, in fact, are the very causes of unethical competition, division, and war.  Understanding, respect, sacrifice, reconciliation, apology and gratitude are the educational values to be pursued for world peace.”

He also says “Peace comes with a price.  Without paying the price there is no peace.  And that price must be paid by those who are blessed and fortunate for those who are lost and in despair”.

Why am I even mentioning my own petty boundary issues in the same place as these giants of men facing death and national injustices with far greater grace?  Because they give me something to aspire to, and where else can I start than in my on back garden, with my own neighbours?

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