Write for your neighbor. It’s some of the best advice I’ve had. Write for your neighbor, said Calvin Seerveld, when he lectured to artists and writers at our church recently. By this, I think he meant to say: Get over yourself. Get over all that grandstanding and grand planning. Write for your neighbor.
In other words, do something small and do it for love.
In the simplest of terms, I am a neighbor. In the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus insists we not busy ourselves with religious commitment, not hurry down our self-important roads of responsibility but that we do unremarkable work. Stop, Jesus said. Find someone parched and bleeding. And when you do, open your tin of water. By this practice of love, which is likely more material than sentimental, everyone is meant to catch a glimpse of Jesus and our allegiance to Him.
Neighborliness is the most fundamental of our callings.
Could we be anything for God without growing patiently and persistently into all of our neighborly obligations, into all of our relationships that require interruption, inconvenience, sometimes even irritation? That require we be small, unapplauded, responsible not for crowds but for one dying man?
Calling can easily wear the mask of importance. I will do and be something. (And should we wish to do and be something for God, our calling rings with the sound of legitimacy.) But the temptation towards notoriety, the willing ourselves for applause: these draw us farther from our neighborhood roads and from our small gestures of love and faithfulness, which I think may ultimately please God most.
I might wonder: what would we find in our tin today for the thirst of our neighbor?
I might wonder, should we search our pockets: what would we find that could be of use to someone over whom many others have stepped and hurried away?
Faithfulness to our neighbor is the point of origin for our calling.
Write for your neighbor, Jesus said.
To which I hope to one day hear: “Well done, my good servant. Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take care of ten cities.”