Loving Your Neighbor

I am a renter which means I live in close quarters with incomplete strangers. We live in a courtyard complex so there is really no privacy. You can’t get the mail, take out the trash, or go for a walk without everyone knowing. Privacy is very important to me, but the rent is low and it’s a great location … so I stay.

The complex is non-smoking. Tenants are advised that no smoking is allowed inside the units. So why is it that I am bedeviled by smokers?

Here’s the catch. The smoking ban is not written in the lease agreement. It is only expressed orally … AND … people will agree to anything for a low rent apartment. Though verbally agreed to, smoking indoors is cause for immediate eviction.

No problem for the smokers who simply step out into the open air courtyard to light up. No problem, that is, unless you are a neighbor who is allergic to cigarette smoke.

That would be … ME!

Tobacco is my number one allergy. It can trigger severe respiratory distress. It makes me sick. Now, I have graciously complained to the manager, and my neighbors — but to no avail.

Th kicker is that the manager — who lives off site — is a smoker as is his mother who works about a block away. She conveniently takes her breaks in our courtyard and lights up with the other nicotine addicts; and all of their smoke wafts into my apartment.

Loving your neighbor?

One of the tenants bought a portable fire pit. Guess where the smoke goes when she has friends over to roast weenies and marshmallows?

My whole apartment — curtains, walls, closets — smell like smoke … for days! I literally am choking and gagging in my own home. I’ve told her that the smoke makes me sick, but it hasn’t stopped her parties.

Loving your neighbor?

According to the lease agreement there can be no courtyard activity after 10 pm. We’re talking about young people. Their night doesn’t begin until 10 pm. When the bars close they stagger home for some courtyard conversation, and a few more cigarettes.

Drunk people don’t realize how loud and boorish they sound at 2 am.

Loving your neighbor?

One more example before I close this short rant. There are 8 apartments, but only one hot water heater. Why do people stay in the shower until the hot water is all gone? The guy next door, for example, will take a 3-minute shower if the water is lukewarm. Generally, his showers can last up to 20 minutes, or whenever the hot water runs cold.

I imagine he stands under the shower head in a hypnotic trance, and doesn’t really wake up until cold water touches his skin. That’s probably true for most people though the previous tenant used to take 1-minute showers … and she didn’t smoke. Gosh, I miss her.

Loving your neighbor?

I mean, I live with people who are just plain selfish. They are fine examples of our narcissistic culture. It is a quality of life issue for me. Smoke inhalation … sleep deprivation … not to mention the inconvenience of having to boil water for sanitation and cleaning. Simply because my neighbors don’t care about conservation, or consideration.

What does loving your neighbor look like? Well, it starts at home .. and it is the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37-39).

Notes:

It’s interesting that Jesus condensed the Ten Commandments into two. The first four deal with our relationship to God while the remaining six deal with our relationship to people. Now we are to love the LORD with all our strength, and love our neighbor as our self.

My neighbors could step out onto the city sidewalk to smoke, and there would be no transgression. Or, they could have simply been honest when told this was a non-smoking complex, and rented elsewhere.

The nature of man is not so cleverly disguised.

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

No Stop Signs in Hell

signblognewI saw an article in a Chicago newspaper with the headline that read:

WHO STOPS AT STOP SIGNS? NOBODY!

A minister at La Vista Church of Christ made note of a member who said that every morning she had to drive 15 miles over the speed limit in order to get to work on time; and she wanted to know if that was a sin.

Friends, I am so exasperated over this casual, no big deal, scofflaw attitude that permeates society. I guess this article would come under the heading of being a law-abiding and, yes, loving person.

I was riding my bike home the other day, the light was green, but I had to stop abruptly in the middle of the intersection because a crowd of twenty-somethings who had just left a nearby pub were crossing against a red light.

Well, I was so infuriated — not just at the crowd, but because this happens ALL THE TIME!

So, I hollered, “Someone’s got a green light!,” and one of the young women in a sing-song, slurred giggle replied, “It doesn’t matter.” Oh, traffic lights don’t matter — since when? Holding my tongue I could only think, “A true daughter of Eve.”

On a bike ride the other day I came to a stop sign, and was waiting for the next car to go when a young woman on a 10-speed blew right past me without stopping. The opposite driver had to hit his brakes, and yield to the biker who seemingly believed the stop sign didn’t apply to her.

For the next 10 blocks, or so, she ran every stop sign, and a couple of red lights. If you are a bike rider, and sympathetic towards this woman, may I remind you that according to the law bicyclists must observe all traffic regulations.

At every intersection cars had to yield their right of way to this villainous woman. I finally hollered out, “You’ve got to stop at stop signs!” She yelled back, “Chill!”

Chill? I don’t even know what that means, but if she keeps running stop signs she might experience a head-on introduction with a motorist who has the same attitude, and that would be chilling to say the least.

I feel like I’m living in Bizarro world where everything is upside-down, inside-out, right is wrong and wrong is right. This is just a smaller symptom of a greater problem. People have a wicked heart. They do what they please, as they please, and they don’t want to be told otherwise. They are their own authority, narcissistic, idolatrous, contemptuous and without any sense of guilt, or conscience. Forgive my rant, but you know it’s true!

The high incidence of traffic accidents in my neighborhood finally compelled the city to install traffic lights and stop signs on opposite ends of the street. So often we’d hear the crashing roar of crumpled metal and shattered glass that action had to be taken.

The stop signs can be seen through my kitchen window and I can testify that no one stops — NO ONE — bicyclists nor vehicles. Motorists hardly slow down to yield much less apply their brakes. The wheels keep turning and they keep moving — called famously the California stop.

Yesterday, a man was walking through the marked crosswalk when a driver pulled up … Oh, that’s the other thing. Listen up, people, the law requires you to stop behind the line — not over (or inside) the crosswalk. In my town if a moving vehicle comes within 2 feet of a pedestrian it is considered to be vehicular assault. Anyway, the driver, perturbed that he had to stop, hollered, “C’mon, man!”

See, this is the thing, pedestrians are just in the way of motorists. Like the stop sign, we’re an inconvenience. We’re nothing more than orange cones on an obstacle course. Drivers hate us. They’re always in a hurry, multi-tasking as they text with one hand and steer with the other. There was a woman caught on film who was fumbling with her cell phone, and steering with her feet! Some people are just too stupid to live. I don’t understand, I can’t comprehend the depth of God’s grace and mercy that he just didn’t end it all after the Flood. I mean, really!

So, now you’re probably thinking, “How does any of this relate to the Bible?” In answer to the woman from the church of Christ, it is a sin to drive over the posted limit. (By the way, why doesn’t she just leave 10 minutes earlier in the morning?) It’s a sin to ignore stop signs. It’s a sin to endanger pedestrians. Oh, you do it every time you turn right on a green light, and impede the person trying to walk across the street. When the light turns green the pedestrian has the right of way. You, the motorist, are turning against the red light — you must yield according to the law, but you don’t. “I’m cocooned in 2000 pounds of steel. I’m makin’ this turn, pedestrian be damned!”

Would you hear Paul regarding your civic obligation to obey the law?

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment (Romans 13:1–2).

Civil government is ordained by God, and with the primary function to protect society and punish the lawbreaker. The Federal government, for instance, has classified marijuana as an illegal substance yet I know Christians who smoke pot. That is sin. And I don’t want to hear your fallacious arguments: “Oh, but it’s a natural substance. God made it for us to use. And, anyway, I have Christian liberty to smoke dope, get drunk, and sleep around because Jesus died for my sins past, present and future.”

Folks, you can sit in your pew with blinders on, but people in the church actually believe that Jesus has set them free to just go on sinning. A popular doctrine, false to be sure, is that Christians don’t have to confess their sins. Where is that written in the Bible, eh? Peter has a word to say about living free in Christ.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God (1 Peter 2:13–17).

What did Peter say? Don’t think Christian liberty is a permission to do wrong. Yes, we are free in Christ, but from what are we free? Sin, my friends.

Jesus had this discussion with the Pharisees (John 8:31–36). He had told them that the truth would set them free, but they answered they were enslaved to no one. You see, they did not understand that Jesus was talking about sin.

Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin … So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Not free to sin, but free from sin. Or, as Paul wrote (Romans 6:1–2):

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

Let’s bring it on home. Paul said we are not walking in love if, by our actions, we cause a brother to stumble. If a brother smokes dope, goes to bars, watches adult movies and, yes, disobeys the law (however minor) — think how that will impact the one who is weaker in faith. If the recovering alcoholic sees a brother going to a bar, well, that just might set back his recovery.

Since nobody stops at stop signs why should I?

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love (Galatians 5:13).

Consider this — there are no stop signs in hell. I can’t cite chapter and verse — it’s just an instinct. Imagine people wandering through eternal darkness, bumping around, stubbing their toes, constantly running into other lost souls — navigating their way through eternity by the sounds of gnashing teeth and shrieking cries … sort of like crumpled metal and breaking glass.

And if we determine by the narrow gate that Jesus means only people who stop at stop signs will enter heaven — then heaven will be sparsely populated, indeed.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate