The Fear Factor

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Scripture: Luke 7:36-37

The Lament: Why We Build the Wall by Anaïs Mitchell ft. Greg Brown

Take It Further: “A Letter to My Next-door Neighbor” by Gabrielle Redcay

Dear Neighbor,

May I be honest for a minute? I’m afraid of you.

It doesn’t even have that much to do with you. Every time we interact—however few and brief
those interactions may be—you seem nice enough. We’ve talked about the weather; we’ve
exchanged names; we’ve greeted each other when our paths cross. All the things “good
neighbors” are supposed to do.

Just to be clear, I’m not afraid of you in the maybe-you’re-a-murderer type of way.

It’s the unknown. It’s my own insecurity. Like a lion circling my heart and thoughts, that fear
lingers. It grips me. It immobilizes me.

No fence separates us, no wall. But that lion keeps me trapped.

I want to talk to you, and not because I want to exchange surface-level quips about the weather.
That’s for meteorologists. No, I want to get to know you. How do you spend your days? What
about life makes you inexplicably happy, and what makes your blood boil? Are you searching for
peace and purpose?

I want you to know that I genuinely care, and not to manipulate you into caring about me in
return. I want you to feel seen, known, and loved because Someone did that for me—and it
changed my life.

He gave me a seat at His table, even though I didn’t know what to say or how to act. He invited
me into His Kingdom, and He’s made a home in my hurting heart. He offers a seat at the table
and a place in His Kingdom to you, too.

Do you know this good news? Do you know Him?

I’m ashamed to say I don’t know. We haven’t talked about it. Instead, we talk about the weather,
traffic, and that yappy dog across the street. The lion doesn’t prowl around such meaningless
conversation. He’s perfectly comfortable with that talk—talk that makes me feel like a good
neighbor, but that carries no eternal significance.

Can I start tearing down the invisible fence that separates us? I claim to love people of every
nation, tribe, and language. But I’m still learning to love the people right next door.

Your Next-door Neighbor


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