A homeowners association’s purpose is to protect the value of a neighborhood and make sure people’s properties look respectable when viewed from the street — no garish colors, no obvious weeds and no fences in disrepair. The HOA may send a letter telling you to fix the fence, or they will do it and bill you. If you put up a fence that hasn’t been approved by the HOA, they can force you to take it down. It’s about protecting property values and perceptions. On the other hand, a neighborhood watch is more about protecting people and watching out for one another, making sure that no one comes to harm.
Jesus said in John 15:12–13 (ESV), “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Additionally, in John 13:34–35 (ESV), He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Is the kingdom of God like an HOA or a neighborhood watch? More personally, are YOU like an HOA or a neighborhood watch in how you interact with God’s children? By God’s children, I mean everyone He has created, not just the ones who go to church with you or look and act the same as you.
When He was on this earth, Jesus interacted with people the religious leaders wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. Luke tells the story of the woman who had a discharge of blood for 12 years in chapter 8:43–48. According to the Levitical laws, a woman who had a discharge of blood was considered unclean until the discharge was gone. Perhaps because she had experienced the rejection of local religious leaders, she only dared to touch the hem of Jesus’ clothes. And yet she was healed.
Jesus asked the woman of Samaria for a drink of water. Again, religious leaders and Jews in general didn’t associate with Samaritans. They certainly wouldn’t associate with a woman who came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid the stares and whispers of her neighbors. Read the story in John 4.
Jesus healed the lepers — all 10 of them. Lepers were also considered unclean and were avoided at all costs. Yet Jesus healed them when they called to Him. When one came and fell at His feet in gratitude, He didn’t put him off, saying that he had to be declared clean by the priests first. He didn’t have to clean up his act to be healed or to offer thanks. Read the story in Luke 17.
I believe that the kingdom of God is like a neighborhood watch. We are to love and care for everyone regardless of age, politics, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, race, how they act toward us, the language they use, the clothes they wear, how they smell or whether their skin is tattooed and pierced and their hair is multicolored. If they come into our church, we should accept and love them. Jesus does. If we encounter them in public, we should accept and love them. Jesus does. And regardless of their sin, we should accept and love them. No one’s sin is worse than yours or mine. It’s all sin against God.
In case you have questions about who your neighbor is, read Luke 10:25–37. Jesus will answer that question for you.
Are you an HOA or are you a neighborhood watch? What would Jesus be?