April 07, 2005

Demolition housecleaning

That's my neighbor. The townhouse next to mine was vacant for about two years, which I found to be quite unusual, and enjoyable both at the same time. I don't know why it took so long to rent the place. Could it have been my evil glares when prospective tenants came to view the townhouse?

One day though, about six months ago a moving van pulled up. I watched as a new family moved in. I sighed, and kissed the exclusivity I enjoyed for 2 years good-bye. Someone was bound to move in eventually. At least by this time, S wasn't kicking the bedroom walls at night anymore. The last neighbors were mean, and loved to complain about every little noise. I guess they lived there for an insanely long amount of time before we moved in. The guy was such a jerk, he even called the police to come over and ticket our friends car one night when they were over for dinner. Instead of politely asking if the car belonged to our guests (who mistakenly parked in their spot) he calls the police and lies saying the car parking in their spot had been a problem on several occasions, which was odd, since it was the first time they had ever been to our house.

If our kids were outside, the husband would rant and rave about all the neighborhood 'brats' playing and making noise. He'd yell at S, who was nine at the time, "Get the ____ away from my door!" I guess when he decided to move into family townhouses, it never occured to him that some families have kids? We shared a porch with a small space separating the doors, so if she sat on the stoop and looked at this door, this infuriated him. It was a bad combination since S both likes to look into people's houses, and see the reaction of people she's antagonized. He'd actually yell and scream as loud as he could and run around closing the blinds, slamming the windows and doors shut in the middle of August. Maybe he thought he was a celebrity and his privacy was being invaded. Heck, he might have been growing pot, that could explain for his aggressive, paranoid, and agitated behavior. Or maybe he was just a jerk. I was very gracious though, I never jammed his air-conditioner with a stick.

We were just glad when they were gone, and enjoyed having the end of our end unit all to ourselves. Atlas, moving day for our neighbors had arrived. These new neighbors seemed nice enough. I was glad to see a black family moving in, as we live in a suburb that is lacking in diversity. Having grown up in San Diego, I appreciated the diversity of different cultures and people. I feel my kids miss out on this at times.

Fast forward to today. There's the dad, mom, and 3 kids. These neighbors seem to be pleasant enough. (Although I really wouldn't know, since they never say one word to anyone). I think, he's a pastor, but I know, they enjoy demolition housecleaning. When they vacuum, they are banging and crashing into the walls. It sounds just like it did when the contractors were still over there, banging, hammering, and pounding away. Bang. Thump. Crash. I baffled, what in the world are they doing over there?

I picture them vacuuming while running around the house pretending they are driving a bumper car, crashing into the furniture and walls. Some days you can hear it start in the adjoining living room area, all the way up into the bedrooms. This morning, it was even worse, I think the husband was throwing the couches into the wall. As I ponder, what kind of housecleaning produces such noise, I daydream about buying a house next year.

All this brings me to think about Jesus said was the second greatest commandment.

Mark 12:31 "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."

This isn't always easy, that's for sure. When I think of the former neighbor, there were many times I wanted to call him four letter words. In religions, so many people want to add on long lists of rites, rituals, or to do's. Even in Christianity you'll find that people can add on to God's word. Across the denomination you'll see trends on how to dress, eat, and what to do for recreation. There are differing opinions on what is 'proper' or 'right' for a Christian in all aspects of life. There's all these rules and 'what not to do' if you're a 'good' Christian. There's this fine line between works and grace, and what exactly it all means to be saved by Grace through faith only, yet faith without works is dead. (For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works so that no one can boast. Eph 2:8)

We're often trying to please man more then God. Or obtain holiness, and favor by God by doing things that aren't even in the Bible.

Today God has reminded me that nothing I can do will ever make God love me more or make me worthy. My own acts of righteousness are as filthy rags. (Isa 64:6) That my salvation is based upon His unconditional love, grace, and mercy. That my salvation is a gift, an undeserved one. That just as God loved me, when I often don't seem to deserve it, so to am I to love my neighbors when I think they may not deserve it. It can be so easy to be indifferent to the different, and quick to judge. I am reminded that these things, are the most important above all. I can honestly say for me, that loving your neighbor as yourelf can be 10 times more difficult then all of the man-made doctrines, tradtions, rituals put together. Especially when you realize, that everyone is your neighbor.

For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, or need review. Here's the text:

Mark 12:28-34 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.32 And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:33 And to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love his neighbour as himself, is more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.34 And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, he said unto him, Thou art not far from the kingdom of God.