Everyone has an opinion about everything that is wrong in the world, but few will do anything about it. That is how it seems at times. In my experience speaking with people in our own community, I have found it does not take long before someone begins to lament the problems facing Pincher Creek. Low voter turn-outs, a lack of volunteers and community engagement, at-risk youth, thinly veiled racism, drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, a lack of services and shut-in seniors with no one to visit them: these are just a few of the problems that communities like ours are facing. We know these problems exist—even if we choose to ignore them—but how can we address them?
Most concerned citizens respond to these problems by going to their government and asking for programs and policies to be enacted and funded in the hope that they will solve the problem. Sometimes programs work, but they never work as well as we would like. Yes, programs are easy and they allow us to pass responsibility for our community’s problems onto others, but one need only look around them to see that programs and government funding are not the answer to society’s problems.
Allow me to voice a radical thought: Imagine what Pincher Creek could be if we could just figure out a way to become a community of neighbours. What would Pincher Creek look like if our neighbours were more than those we share a fence with? What kind of place would this be if they were more than the people to whom we politely say, “Hello,” as we walk from our cars to our homes?
Imagine if we knew the names of every person on our block and took the time to talk with them and visit them. Imagine if neighbours invited one another to dine in their homes, or if entire neighbourhoods joined forces to watch out for each other’s children or to work to make their block a better place to live.
My God, Jesus Christ, had something to say about this. He told those who followed Him to love their neighbours as themselves. Those He spoke to marvelled at this and at His response to the question, “Who is my neighbour?” Essentially, Jesus said that our neighbour is everyone we meet and everyone God has placed around us. No matter how good or how awful a person was, Jesus said His followers needed to love them as themselves!
Unfortunately, the sad reality is that Christians—including myself—have often ignored Jesus’ radical command. For that, I apologize, and I commit to make it my goal to love my neighbours. Will you join me in being a true neighbour in your community? Imagine what Pincher Creek could be if we could just figure out a way to become a community of neighbours.
This article appeared first in the Pincher Creek Echo, January 27, 2016. Written by Pastor Stephen Valcourt.
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