Jesus said the greatest commandment is "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" (Luke 10:27)
We believe that everything we ought to do falls under this simple mission:
Love God. Love neighbors.
When people asked Jesus who our neighbors are, he responded with the story of the Good Samaritan, which illustrates that everyone is our neighbor. As Neighborhood Church, we are to love everyone. How do we love everyone? By loving the person next to us.
We believe that church is not a place, building, time or organization, but is meant to be a community that equips all of us to keep pursuing Jesus. We believe that we all are meant to love God and love our neighbors, and that God has positioned us to love the people around us--family, friends, co-workers, and everyone we meet.
Human beings were created to extend peace. In the Old Testament, the word shalom means peace, well-being, harmony, prosperity, and much more. God created humans to be peace-makers, shalom-makers. Our task is to help other people and the world around us to thrive. Whenever you bring order, beauty, or abundance to the world around you, you are making shalom.
“Wanting God’s best for the people around you” is a brief way to define love according to the Bible. So, being a peacemaker for others can be summed up in the word love. Love is all about prioritizing other people’s shalomover your own.
Unfortunately, all of us act in ways that are self-centered. We end up trying to make ourselves thrive instead of prioritizing God’s mission of extending peace to other people and the whole creation.
What word describes our own self-centeredness? Sin.
Most people view sin as “doing bad things.” Really, though, sin means thinking of yourself first. We all are designed to think of God’s desires first. And God’s desires are for us to extend peace to others first, to be people of love. So, when we think of ourselves first we are missing God’s plan. When we act out of our own self-interest, what we do hurts others, ourselves, and God. You can describe the actions we take as “bad,” but at the core, sin is simply putting yourself first.
All of us put ourselves first from time to time, but Jesus shows us how to live a life of love. By choosing to follow His way and put Him first, we are united with Him, and forgiven for being self-centered. Then, we are free to be the way God wanted us to be—to be peacemakers, to be people of love.
Now, instead of only contributing to the brokenness of the world, we are able to contribute to its restoration. We can be people who put others first (love). We can make the world more orderly, beautiful, and abundant—we can be peacemakers.