Love where you’re planted (religion)

Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, January 20, 2016

By Chanel Bingham

In writing this column, it is my prayer that God will guide my words and use them to minister and bring hope to others. In preparing for this week, I must admit that God completely changed the direction of my writing.

In planning for one article, the gears were shifted to a message unexpected. I was somewhat surprised by the shift because I feel that most of us have a pretty solid understanding of this topic and make an effort to put it into practice.



As I watched for God’s leading, the well-known message of “love your neighbor as yourself” began to unfold. I thought of several stories to share that would demonstrate this very simple yet powerful message, but each story that came to mind was met with a gentle “no.” It wasn’t until I came across Annie’s story that I began to understand the purpose for this article.

Annie works for a non-profit Christian organization that strives to share the gospel of Christ with those in the community of Austin, Texas. One of the projects of this organization is to encourage and provide resources for church members to reach out and meet their literal neighbors.

What struck me about Annie’s story was the unintentional failure in the seemingly simple command to “love your neighbor.” Annie shares that she only briefly met her neighbor when she first moved into her apartment complex and maintained a casual attitude toward him, believing that he would not be a “relevant” part of her life.

She never gave her neighbor much thought until the Austin Police Department was called to his home for a crisis intervention, prompted by a frantic call from his mother informing them that he had planned to commit suicide.

As Annie listened to the conversation between the APD and her neighbor just outside her doorway, she learned that her neighbor had been suffering from depression. They offered the man help, and Annie never saw him again.

Annie now shares her story in hopes of reminding us that no one is promised tomorrow, and we should not wait to get to know the people God has planted around us. She also shared that in praying for her neighbor after the events that unfolded, she was struck by the realization that because she had not thought this person to be “relevant” to her world, she did not even remember his name.

It was in that moment that she was reminded that God has a divine purpose for our circumstances and who He brings into our lives.

It’s easy for us to love our neighbor when they fit into our idea of loveable. No one would argue against cutting the grass of the kind, elderly lady who just lost her husband. It’s easy to bring a meal to a member of our church family who just had surgery or to the couple who just had their first baby.

But what about our next door neighbor who is in and out of trouble with law enforcement? What about the rude neighbor who gives you hateful glances each time you make eye contact? And what about the family who lives next door and is in crisis because their child is addicted to drugs? Are they a relevant part of our lives? If not, they should be, because Christ has called us to love them.

There are so many people in our very own community whose lives are broken either by their own choices or by some injustice perpetrated against them. For some of them, healing and wholeness is elusive, because they cannot see beyond their pain.

I understand that it’s not an easy thing to love those who make us uncomfortable. In fact, they may reject our love altogether. But don’t give up! You may just discover that the person you don’t think is worth your time may be the very person God placed in your path to love, and perhaps, even offer love to you.

After hearing Annie’s story, I believe the purpose of this familiar message is to remind us all of one of the foundational truths of the heart of Jesus: love. I pray Annie’s story will serve as encouragement for each of us to live out love right where God has planted us.

“And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31

Chanel Bingham is a freelance writer, blogger and public speaker. She resides in Thorsby with her husband and four children. You can visit Chanel at or on Facebook at “The Polished Canvas.” Her column publishes each week.