What has God called you to do when it comes to loving your neighbors well? Let’s look at this questions today as we continue in our series about being a good neighbor.
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Narrator [00:00:02] Purposely. Your life, God’s purpose. Listen at onpurposely.com. Welcome to Purposely equipped. We want to help you go deeper in your faith by learning truth from the Bible. Our new series, What does It mean to be a good Neighbor? Will help you discover what the Bible has to say about how we treat and love those around us. This is a practical podcast where we’ll learn together what God desires of us. For this series, we are joined by Pastor Jesse Bradley of Grace Community Church in Auburn, Washington.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:00:38] Welcome to the Purposely Equipped podcast. Our series is on Loving Your Neighbors, and this is a topic that stretches all of us. We started with a biblical definition of being a neighbor, and we focused on Luke Chapter 10, The Good Samaritan, and what Jesus teaches us, that our neighbors are actually everyone who God brings into our paths. And, you know, to have God’s love, we need to abide with Jesus so we can really love our neighbors. And the second question, which is the episode today, “What has God called you to do as a neighbor?” Because it’s not just getting information. These are relationships and risks, and we want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We want to represent Jesus as his ambassadors. And that includes doing some things. And we want to highlight the scripture that Jesus doesn’t come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Now, Melanie Kaneshiro is with me today and Melanie leads our international student ministry. And when you think Melanie about being called God has called you to an amazing ministry. And I’m so grateful for what’s happening there. Talk about just your own experiences in terms of being served and serving and gaining a sense of what God is really called you to do as a neighbor and as a friend to people. What does that look like?
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:01:51] Yeah, absolutely. It all goes back to me when I lived in Japan, you know, I was served and there was a time when I ran out of money, and I was literally homeless in Tokyo. And I went to the church, and somebody took me in and, you know, being served. We all go through these periods of when we’re have a challenge. And the the guy on the side of the road, the Good Samaritan, reached out to, you know, it’s an act of mercy and kindness. And we have those opportunities, big or small, almost every day. But, you know, Jesus came to serve and if we want to follow Him, we want to enter into that joy of service. It really does become a joy when you’ve been served and you’ve been hurting, you’ve been in that really low place, and you’ve been served. You know, it’s really great feeling to be on the other side of that and be able to reach out and love people in practical ways, meet needs, and just really keep your eyes open and look for those opportunities all around us every day.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:02:52] That’s it. And when Jesus taught, he said, Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:02:56] Yeah.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:02:57] And what I’m hearing you say is love includes serving and love includes sacrifice. And there’s actually a joyful serving that happens.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:03:06] Yeah, absolutely. God loves a cheerful giver. And He can do that in your heart. And you know, he can give you that joy in serving. And, you know, that’s where I’m at, you know, when I’m serving is it’s a pure joy. He also said, love your enemies. You know, it’s pretty much in the same context, you know, in Leviticus, don’t hold a grudge, but love your neighbor as yourself. That’s kind of a paraphrase, but and then repeated that that’s repeated in the New Testament when Jesus said to love your enemies. So, you know, in the Good Samaritan, He could have been seen as an enemy because He was reaching out across a lot of social barriers. And we have a lot of reasons to be offended or to take things personally. And instead, God gives us a way of escape, to conquer with love, to fight with love, and to sacrifice ourselves and to really serve.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:03:55] That’s it. And when you do that, you’re humbling yourself. You’re serving and valuing other people. I think of John Chapter 13, where Jesus is washing the disciples’ feet and you know, He’s doing something there that ultimately He’s going to serve and sacrifice even more for everyone by dying on the cross. But it’s an act of service that’s kind of stunning. Some of them are like, “No, no, no, you shouldn’t be doing this”. And when you really love your neighbors, there’s a sense of like, “Wait, why are you doing this? Like, where does this come from?”.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:04:24] And it’s kind of suspicious. People really get suspicious when you act like Jesus is like, what is what’s the catch?
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:04:31] That’s it. When you love your neighbor, you start to act like Jesus. That starts to sound like Jesus look like Jesus. And people aren’t used to that kind of love. Now, you know, it’s a norm in a lot of neighborhoods to not even know the names of the people on your block, or you just pull into your garage, and you close the garage door, and the relationships are very shallow. So, when you actually notice people and their needs and care for them, I mean, God calls us to love people where we live, work, learn and play.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:04:58] Oh, yeah.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:04:58] And then to be His ambassador and you’ve had an incredible opportunity to do that with international students as well. And people might not know, but Green River College in Auburn is in the top ten is far as the number of international students at an American college.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:05:14] That’s right.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:05:15] And it’s so inspiring what’s happening there. People might not know at all some of the things that God’s doing there. Could you give a picture of of what this looks like right now?
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:05:25] Yeah. Our ministry is very hospitality rich. And, you know, we take initiative. We have that come and see approach. And every week I’m inviting new students that I’ve met on campus. I work on the campus there at Green River College, and I have an opportunity to meet new students all the time. So I’m inviting them to church. And that’s kind of my first step, is to say, “Hey, would you like to experience this with me? You know, come and and see what this is all about.” And most of the time, like maybe 95%, they say yes, they’re actually really feel honored to be included and welcomed. And they want to have an American experience. They think this still is a Christian nation. But I’m not I’m not going to let them in on anything. But, you know, just welcoming in that hospitality. And then I have a whole team of people that is so beautiful, especially in this last year. I’ve seen a lot of people step up and they’re helping drive. And, you know, some of those drivers who say, hey, you know, let’s stop in and get something to eat or come on over after you have time, you know, come on over for lunch. And the hospitality piece is so rich and that’s transformative. It really is. It’s amazing. I’ve been the only person in abroad before and not had a friend. And I don’t want the students that come here to have that lonely experience. And so we’re standing in the gap for them.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:06:48] Awesome. Hospitality, you know, it starts in the heart. And then when you have that in your heart, it’s going to extend and open up your home is so wonderful, you know, And you read the Bible in the Book of Acts are opening up their homes all the time, inviting people in. And sadly, a lot of international students never are going to get invited unless there’s someone who, again, extends that hospitality because God’s put in your heart. And I know when I lived overseas, it meant the world to be in a home and with a family for a meal. And when I look out on Sunday mornings, and I see there’s people and students from every nation and many of them are hearing about Jesus for the first time.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:07:24] Yeah.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:07:25] And that hospitality is kind of a bridge where they get to experience God’s love and action, and then they learn more about who this God is.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:07:31] Yeah, we’re trying to create safe environments where they can ask questions and they can really explore honestly about their worldview and our worldview. And who is this Jesus that you worship and creating that really safe environment for them to do so. And yeah, that’s all about being a neighbor. And God’s brought these people. It’s kind of like in Acts where all the people gathered into Jerusalem for Pentecost and then God poured out His spirit. God’s doing that same strategy today. And you know, these students that come in, they’re going to they’re going to be influencers because they come from positions where, you know, they’re going to they’re going to serve their nation. They’re going to be in politics, in business, in all kinds of arenas. And how are they going to serve? What are they going to take home with them? And we just want to love them and serve them while they’re here so that they can catch that bigger vision of God’s kingdom and what He wants for all of us, that joy and that love and that community and just entering into God’s blessing.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:08:35] That’s right. And when I read the Bible, it says there’s people from every nation, tongue and tribe in heaven. And I feel like when our church is very diverse, many nations there, it’s a picture, it’s a taste of heaven.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:08:47] So sweet.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:08:48] It’s just awesome. And to see those friendships, because it’s not just that we’re in the same building, but we’re actually in each other’s homes or cars and the friendships that develop, you know, that’s where you learn so much. That’s the richness and the fullness. And some people think, Well, I’m not going to go overseas that often, but God has actually brought the whole world to America.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:09:09] Yeah.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:09:09] And if you just look around and build those friendships, you know, you don’t have to travel thousands of miles. Actually, there’s people from those other cultures right here.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:09:18] Yeah, that’s right.
[00:09:19] And I think when Jesus prayed for unity in John 17, His longest prayer, this includes being a neighbor includes having people over to your house that are from different nations and ethnicities. And maybe that’s a practical take away from this conversation. Here is, when’s the last time you’ve had someone over?
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:09:37] You know, the food. Food is a big deal because everybody eats. So, bringing gathering around a table, it kind of is an equalizer and a welcome hospitality. And I think that’s that’s so powerful. And whether it’s international students or your literal neighbor next door, you know, open your doors and be hospitable. Be generous. That’s the spirit of Jesus.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:09:58] That’s it. I was convicted when I was asked, do I know the names of the people up and down my block? And I thought, no, I really don’t. And I mean, literally a neighbor that’s a person who lives right next to you. And maybe that’s where it starts opening up your heart, your home, some food. And in many cultures, when you have a meal together, that’s really a symbol of acceptance. Oh, yeah, in close friendship. I mean, that that communicates so much, right?
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:10:23] Absolutely. Yeah. They want to opportunities to give back. And so, you know, we want to help them serve as well and set that example. You know and this is discipleship. This is what this is kind of my definition of discipleship, which is living together, and it catches. It’s not something intellectual, but it’s something that catches and it’s a lifestyle, a transformative lifestyle that’s given and modeled and then remodeled. And so it’s like something, you know, put it on, make it your own and and go forth and do it. You know, we’re sending out these students. We hope that they change the world for Jesus. And we’ve seen a lot of students come to Christ through this kind of rich hospitality and this safe environment where there’s love and there’s food and there’s just that warm welcome. it’s amazing. It’s very exciting.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:11:11] Yes. And I can just see your smile. I know it doesn’t come across on audio podcast, but there’s just there’s a fire and a joy in your eyes and your smile. And it’s so evident that although it might be uncomfortable at first, and you might have to learn some new cultures and some new names and you might mess it up along the way.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:11:29] I always do.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:11:31] Yeah, that’s it.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:11:32] And like you said earlier, you know, we want to be learners. This is an area where I’ve been doing this for 30 plus years and I’m still a learner. I’m on that learning curve. It’s a sharp curve I’ve been on for a long time.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:11:45] That’s good.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:11:46] That’s good. Keeps me humble and it keeps me joyful, too. And it’s life’s an adventure. And Jesus is with us all the way. This is His heart.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:11:53] Yes, that’s right. And as we study the Bible, it’s not just the information, but it’s the transformation. And ultimately, it’s relational. And if we don’t make that step from the information and the knowledge we’re learning to the relationships with the people around us, then we’re missing out on some of the joy that the Lord has. So again, what is God called us to do? He’s called us to take relationship risks, to initiate to serve, not just be served, and open up our hearts and homes with hospitality, because that’s when we’re really going to experience the kind of relationships that God’s designed us to enjoy. Start by serving and also receive and the depth. There are no limits to what God can do. For going deeper today, check out John Chapter 13 Jesus Washing Feet. You can also check out Jesus on the cross because down to His last breaths, He still being a neighbor. There are two thieves next to Him and one of them is maybe being cruel, insulting Him. But what does Jesus do? Gives grace and forgiveness. And then that thief puts their trust in Jesus. He puts his trust in Jesus. You’ll be with me today in paradise. I mean, they’re going to be right side by side for eternity because Jesus was faithful in don’t stop being a neighbor, even when it’s painful, even when you know you’ve been mistreated, just keep bringing that love as you abide with Jesus. Melanie, anything else you want, encourage people with?
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:13:13] And that’s a good word. Jesse. Well, I’m inspired. It’s really been a great conversation. And I say, you know, God’s going to give you opportunity every day to serve somebody and just go out there, take that relational risk. Let’s be bridges. Let’s bridge the gap to between man and God and just go out and love our neighbor and enter into that joy.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:13:36] Right on. And so, this Sunday, if you’re at church, there’s someone you don’t know. Walk across the room, introduce yourself, and then let’s build friendships that cross. Sometimes there’s some national boundaries that don’t need to be there, and let’s build those friendships together. God has called us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Melanie Kaneshiro [00:13:55] Amen.
Pastor Jesse Bradley [00:13:55] As we look forward to the next episode, our next question “What is faithfulness to God look like in this area?” And we’ll unpack that our next episode. Let’s keep walking together and loving our neighbors.
Narrator [00:14:09] Special thanks again to our hosts from Grace Community Church in Auburn for their help with this series. And thank you for downloading. What does it mean to be a good neighbor? A Purposely Equipped series. Let’s keep growing in our faith together, purposely equipped as part of Purposely a podcast network with practical podcasts to help you find and live in God’s purpose for your life. Find more podcasts and faith resources and onpurposely.com.