Ubuntu in the ‘burbs
[eltdf_dropcaps type=”normal” color=”” background_color=””]I[/eltdf_dropcaps] happily grew up in the village (read: Limpopo, cows, chickens, dirt roads, clean air etc.), and have now settled in the ‘burbs of Joburg. Just recently, I was struck by how different life is in these two worlds. Back in the village, life was great; you knew all your neighbours around the block and could easily pop in to ask for a little sugar for your tea, or a little help with something. Living in the burbs however, it was not until recently- when I stopped working, that I really met my neighbours. Before that, my interaction with said neighbours was limited to the infamous, polite wave –and-smile that meant “I think you also live in this complex…somewhere…?”
Then, my grandfather’s funeral happened… this sad event provided the context for me to further contrast the Ubuntu in the village and that from the ‘burbs. My mind was blown away by how the whole village came around us in support. They knew and understood the difficulty of arranging a funeral and they all chipped in; some households brought serving tables and others brought a chair each -in isolation, it doesn’t seem like anything but 56 households later means 56 chairs.
This is how we were raised, yet how far we have departed from that manner of life? This retreat is tragic because the Ubuntu way of living is comparable to the way of life that God commanded when He stated that: the law is summed up in our love for Him and love for… yes, our neighbour. Granted, we have our church community, but I highly doubt that God was referring exclusively to our immediate family and church family when He used the term “neighbour”.
“Neighbour” refers to people that you live in close proximity to. Life in the burbs and its busyness has left us not knowing our neighbours. I dread to think of the day when I don’t need sugar but have a real emergency that requires my neighbour’s help. The dialogue would awkwardly be something like: “Hi, I am Lebo from number 14…erm…we’ve waved and smiled at each other a few times…so…please could you help me with…”
This concept of neighbourly love really hit home when I read one of Wednesday’s Word from Paul Tripp on people. The segment spoke about the importance of treating people as people or image bearers; not as the petrol attendant, the cashier or the bank teller but as a person who is bearing the very image of God. [eltdf_blockquote text=”How I treat my neighbours matters to God. They are the mission field that He has given to me. We think we need to hit the streets and cross borders to spread Gods love, when we can simply reach out our arms to our neighbours next door.” title_tag=”h2″ width=””] Consequently, hubby and I resolved that this year we would be deliberate about getting to know our neighbours and inviting them over for a meal. It won’t be easy and will mean getting out of our comfort zone, but we both know the blessing of growing in a community with loving neighbours.
Neighbourly love is so hard to do because my flesh wants nothing but my own comfort, wants not to be inconvenienced in anyway; but praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who works in me, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
But, is not the whole point of neighbourly love merely an act of “considering others as more significant than ourselves”? Is it not being of the same humble mind that our Lord Jesus Christ had? May He be our help in our endeavour to love our neighbours as He would.
Halla in the comments below on some practical things we can do to live in community and “love thine neighbour.”