When a lawyer asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” he was probably looking for a legalistic answer that would relieve him of responsibility for any but those who were in closest proximity to him and who were essentially like him. Instead, Jesus told the story of a kindly member of a despised minority who took care of a man in a ditch (Luke 10:25-37).

For the Parkway family, even if we accept that we have a responsibility to our neighbors, we might still ask the question, “Where is our neighborhood?” The nebulous answer, “Our neighborhood is the world,” while correct, is hardly specific enough to have any practical application. Through our Global Missions Offering and our Bolivian partnership we extend our neighborliness to some places far away, but what about our local neighborhood? Does such a concept even have meaning for us?

The church building’s mailing address is in Duluth. Our physical location is in the city of Johns Creek. We are close to some residential neighborhoods and apartment complexes, but our closest neighbors are businesses like Home Depot and Whole Foods. Our members come from as far as Loganville, Roswell, inside the perimeter, and into Forsyth County. Our ministry partners are in Duluth and Norcross. We are literally all over the map.

So the first answer to the question, “Where is our neighborhood?” is, wherever you live. Our first responsibility as Christians is to be good neighbors to those who are closest to us. Through one means or another, there is a good chance your neighbors know you are a Christian, or at least that you go to a Christian church. The way you act toward them has a direct effect on your witness as a follower of Christ. That means the impact of this congregation reaches far beyond 5975 State Bridge Road.

For our church as a whole, we have a challenge. We need to be good neighbors to those who are around our property — the businesses and their employees, the apartment complexes with their largely transient tenants, the increasing Korean population of Duluth and Johns Creek, other ethnic groups, the residents of the neighborhoods along State Bridge and Peachtree Parkway.

What can we do to be better neighbors? I’m seriously asking, because, frankly, it’s hard to get a grip on the questions of neighbors and neighborhood for our church. Many of you are involved in local community activities. Help us to know ways that we can be more neighborly, more involved in what is going on around us.

As a church family you have always been open, accepting, and welcoming toward anyone who chose to worship with us. You have made it clear both by word and deed that we look beyond any outward differences of appearance to see the common humanity in us all. But that’s actually the easy part.

The hard part is finding ways to go to them instead of waiting for them to come to us. If you’ve got ideas, I’m ready to hear them. In the meantime, pray for some answers from the One who put us here, right here, in the first place.