(316) 858-9100 | 1831 E. 21st St, Andover KS

Longer Tables, Not Taller Fences

Lauren and I have lived in our home, here in Andover, for almost six years. That may not seem long to you, but it’s our first home together and it’s the house we’ve brought all our children home from the hospital to. It will most definitely have a permanent place in our hearts as we cherish the memories made here for the years to come. But I’ve come to not just love our home, but our neighbors as well. The trend seems to be an older generation that surrounds us and with three kids we regularly take outside for driveway chalk, neighborhood walks, and tree swing rides, people have felt open to approach us on multiple occasions throughout the years.

One of the deepest relationships we have built is with our next-door neighbors. They have lived in our neighborhood since it was built. He is retired and she works part time. They’re kind, generous, inviting, incredibly loving to our kids, but they don’t know Jesus.

As a pastor when you meet your neighbors and they ask what you do, the topic of God either comes up easily or you get the feeling that God is not something they are super interested in talking with you about. He has been respectful and kind, but has mentioned they don’t go to church and it’s not something they plan on changing anytime soon.

Lauren and I, unintentionally, have trained our kids to stop and pray whenever we hear a siren. (We live next to Kellogg so it happens quite often). As our friendship has progressed through the years with them, we have had one another over for dinner on different occasions. One night we were sitting outside eating a meal and sirens began going off on the highway. Judah, our three-year-old quickly reminded me we should pray. So, we stopped right there, said a prayer, and continued on chatting and sharing life with our neighbors. It felt a little weird to do, but we long for and try to engage with every opportunity we can to share the and love of Jesus with our neighbors.

I heard it said many years ago, when Matt Chandler was teaching on the subject of living in a post-Christian society, that as the world around seems to lose its base of morality, and God-focused living, what we need to do is to build longer tables as followers of Jesus, not taller fences. Our initial reaction to our neighbors no longer going to church like we do or believing the same way we do can easily be to park our car in the garage, close the garage door, and never care to meet, know, or love the people God has literally MADE OUR NEIGHBORS.

Pastor Nick mentioned this Sunday a scale of urgency we feel for loving others. On one end there is complacency and on the other, urgency. I find myself selfishly desiring complacency, but the Spirit moving me more towards urgency. What if in my urgency I were more apt to asking my neighbor how I could be praying for him, to shoveling his driveway after an onslaught of snow, to showing him the love of Christ and speaking God’s value for him as well. I’ve truly found myself being more complacent about this and God opened my eyes to this!

I want to urge us towards the mindset that God has placed us in the specific groups, jobs, and even neighborhoods that He has for a purpose. As a follower of Christ, God longs to use us to show His love to the world. So, let us begin to build longer tables, to sit and eat, to share life with those who need to know God and to not just build a taller fence for our own convenience and safety. Let our boldness to love be rooted in our trust and love for Jesus.

Romans 8:31b
“If God is for us, who can be against us.”


Pastor Ben