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JULY 2019

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By Brittany Mullet Brittany is a member of the EM Summer staff team serving in Lewiston, Maine. This reflection was written during her time leading mission trips, getting to know local partners, and investing in the local community.

As I walk down the street to Kennedy Park, I hear a little voice coming from a little window above saying, “Heeeeeey, Britt.” I look up to see where it's coming from and can’t find anyone. I hear laughter and key in on one of the windows where I see one of my sweet friends sitting in her home. I yell, “Hi!” and a few other things and head on my way. This little interaction is nothing out of the ordinary in my neighborhood. Everywhere we walk, whether it be to Kennedy Park, Simard-Payne, or even sitting on the picnic tables at The Root Cellar, I see a friend.

Being in a neighborhood and being apart of a community that is all close in proximity is something I have always desired. The value of community is huge, and I have gotten to experience a little piece of that this summer.

The Root Cellar, EM's community partner in Lewiston, emphasizes the beauty of the verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31) The book of Matthew also records Jesus proclaiming, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)

In this passage, Jesus was confronting the rules created in the Mishnah by the Pharisees by fulfilling The Law of Liberty or The Law of Christ.

The Pharisees were teaching to love your fellow Jew and hate your enemy. Loving a fellow Jew, or in our case, a friend or a fellow follower of Jesus is easy. Christ continues, saying, “For if you love [only] those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brothers [wishing them God’s blessing and peace], what more [than others] are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles [who do not know the Lord] do that? You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:46-48)

I am guilty of this. It is so easy to love those who reciprocate love back to us. It is so easy to love people who are like us. It is so easy to love people who we are familiar with. However, that is not what Christ commands. Just as the Father showers us with grace, mercy, and kindness when we don’t deserve it, so should we strive for that great love for others.

I have received some of that unconditional love from my neighbors who, from some people’s standards, are my enemy.

Some of my neighbors look differently than I do—speak differently, dress differently, live differently than I do—yet they love me as a neighbor. They have accepted this unknown girl into their neighborhood and have made me feel like it’s mine as well.

The people that the Pharisees taught to hate, Christ commands us to love. My neighbors show me that great love, and it stirs me to love constantly, regardless of the return, and without condition.

By no means am I saying all my neighbors show love and acceptance to me. I am not that naive. However, the ones that do show resistance still deserve that unconditional love. Those that come against us are the target for love. They are the people Christ is talking about in the Sermon on the Mount. Loving our enemies so that we show and reflect the life of Christ and the love of our Father.

Being in a neighborhood is challenging me to reflect and question, "Am I truly loving everyone I know unconditionally or only loving people like me?"

I have received that love from my neighbors who are all not like me. In that, I see the reflection of Christ through them, and I am truly grateful.

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