If you have a church background, Jesus’ words from Mark 12:29-31 will not be unfamiliar to you. In an attempt to trick Jesus, pharisaical religious leaders asked him which of God’s commandments was most important. 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.”
Notice how interesting that last sentence is structured. There is no greater commandment (singular) than these (plural). Which means those two items Jesus mentioned 1) Loving the Lord with all our heart and 2) Loving our neighbors as ourselves are considered one in the same. We demonstrate our love for God by loving others.
Let’s bring it home. How can you practically love your neighbor as yourself? Here are 10 simple ways you can bless your community.
1) Offer a Free Class
Do you have a particular area of expertise that you can share with others? Offer a free class or series of classes on the subject! If you’re mone savvy, maybe host a one-day financial literacy seminar. Or maybe you’re an artist, host a workshop around your craft. Seasoned parents could offer a parenting seminar for newbies. If you’re a great cook, put together a series of classes on how to pull together simple meals. Local libraries usually have meeting rooms available for free where you can easily host an event. Get creative!
2) Clean up Your Neighborhood
Pick a scheduled time to walk around your neighborhood and spruce things up a bit. You might even consider making your lawn especially inviting by installing a bench towards the sidewalk or a basketball hoop at the end of your driveway for others to use.
3) Hand Out Baked Goodies
Have you ever known anyone to turn down good old fashioned baked goods? I haven’t either. Consider putting an invite card in the baggie.
4) Pay For Loads at the Laundromat
Our church has done this outreach several times and plans to continue doing so! Basically, show up at your local laundromat on a busy day (usually Saturdays) with a handful of quarters. Offer to pay for others’ laundry. Strike up a conversation if you can. You might ask the management before you show up, but pitch your idea as a win-win for the business.
5) Be Prepared to Give Food to the Hungry
Growing up, my parents made it a point to keep packs of crackers and other easy snacks in the glove compartment of our car. Whenever we met someone who said they were hungry, we had a practical way to meet their need. Remember that those who are hungry or homeless are people just like you. They want the same things you do: friendship, respect, compassion. Offer those things, and a bite to eat, in Jesus’ name.
6) Offer to Wash Your Neighbor’s Car
Especially in the summertime when it’s likely your neighbors will be out and about, ask if you could serve them by giving their car a good wash. Even if they say no, it’s the thought that counts.
7) Go Caroling at Christmas
December. You. Friends. Smiles. Songs. Go.
8) Ask Your Neighbor What They Need Help With
Another way you can be a blessing to your community is, simply, to ask how you might be a blessing.
9) Organize a Playgroup
If you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad, see if you can organize a playgroup with other parents in your neighborhood. Even offer to host the first one. Parents have a great ready-made talking point: their kids!
10) Throw a Block Party
If you want to be really adventurous, throw a block party for your neighborhood. You may want to pull in some reinforcements for this one. Whether you want to host a full-fledged barbeque or a simple ice cream social, creating space for your neighbors to mix and mingle is a wonderful way to serve them!
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:1-11)