We never really got to know the previous occupants. So Kate decided she would bake some cookies for these new folks across the hall.
I was lucky enough to get to try her prototypes. She went all out, using our new blender to make a special recipe from scratch. So so good.
For 3 days we knocked on their door. In the afternoon and in the evening. Multiple times.
The new neighbors never answered the door.
At first we thought we were just unlucky. Maybe our schedules were just really out of sync with each other.
Then, about 30 minutes after the last time we knocked, I heard some rumbling in our hallway. I walked to the door and looked out the peephole.
And I saw the new neighbors walking out of their apartment. They were in the house the whole time.
So we ate their cookies.
Sorry neighbors, if you’re reading this. But can you blame us? I mean, we didn’t want the cookies to go to waste. And it was clear they were refusing our kind gesture.
Did we do the right thing? Should we have kept knocking until the cookies got moldy? I’m not sure.
My first inclination would be to just give up on our new neighbors. We tried to connect with them. It didn’t work out. They missed the boat on the best cookies of their life.
It’s not really my style to get to know my neighbors anyway. I’d much rather take the easy way out, stay at home in my sweatpants and watch WWE Network while letting the people across the hall go about their business as well.
After all, if they don’t want to get to know us, why should we keep trying to get to know them?
I’d prefer our welcoming gesture to have an expiration date. But I do think we have to try again.
When God tells us to love each other we admire the platitude. It sounds like a noble aspiration to live our life this way.
We like loving others when we know we’ll receive love in return. But there are people in everyone’s life who are just downright unlovable.
There are people we’ve tried to be nice to that have rejected our advances. There are still others who put off a bad attitude that we don’t even try to approach.
Why offer love to someone if it’s obvious they won’t accept it? Isn’t that just a waste of our time and energy that could be better spent helping the people who want to be helped?
The problem is Jesus didn’t just say to love your neighbor. He said to love your enemy as well.
He said to do good to those who hate you.
He said to forgive people until you can’t even keep track of how often you’ve forgiven them.
When Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, it doesn’t matter if the neighbor wants to be loved or not. God’s commands are not conditional.
As Christians our offer of love should not expire even if it’s not accepted. God didn’t call us to love only when it’s easy or convenient. His love does not have an expiration date. Neither should ours.
Our job is to offer God’s love and to offer it unconditionally. In doing so we trust God to take care of the rest.
We are not failing God if someone refuses our gesture of kindness. We are only failing him when we do not offer the gesture at all.
So I think the wife and I need to keep cooking for our neighbors. I think we need to keep knocking on their door whether they answer it or not. Only then will we be answering our calling.
Maybe they’ll answer this time and we’ll make a new connection. And if they don’t, well, that’s just more cookies for us. It’s a win-win.
Do you have an unlovable neighbor in your life? What can you do today to keep “knocking on their door” and extending the offer of love?
***UPDATE: Kate and I finally got a chance to meet our new neighbor 2 weeks after our initial efforts failed. We kept baking cookies and knocking on the door and eventually it paid off. Turns out it was just a series of misunderstandings why we kept missing out on meeting each other. So if your efforts to love your neighbor are being rejected, keep being persistent. Your next “knock on the door” might be the one that finally opens it.
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