Having neighbors can be an interesting affair. Sometimes they can be great, other times—not so much. Fortunately, Camille and I have never had bad neighbors since we have been married (living in our respective dorms before that is another story, of course!). But no one wants to live next to a person who has an obnoxious dog that is always yapping or a loud stereo that always seems to be blaring.
But what about having God as a neighbor? What would you think of that? Some of us would, perhaps, be paranoid a little bit—always worrying that He is going to walk by our windows and notice what we’re watching on TV, or overhear us yelling at our spouse or children. The irony, of course, is that even if He does not live in close proximity physically, He can still see all this stuff we do in the “privacy” of our own homes!
And yet, there is good news in God’s neighborliness. In fact, He is our neighbor. At least that’s what David claims! In Psalm 34:18 David has this beautiful promise for us: “They Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.”
What a beautiful promise! When our hearts are broken, we are overwhelmed with the cares of the world, and we just need someone to talk with or “vent,” the Lord is “near.” But the word for “near” is an interesting one because it is also the same word that is used for someone who is a literal “neighbor” (see Exodus 32:27). At the same time, the word also seems to connote the idea of a “relative” or a “close kin.” This is the case with Ruth and Boaz. He was described by Naomi as being a “relative,” and one who was, therefore, able to “redeem” her (see Ruth 2:20).
So this is a wonderful picture of God’s nearness to us. He is a close Relative who is also our Neighbor. And in our time of need, we can surely go to Him and knock on His door and He will open to us. No, more than that, He comes to us and knocks on our doors and promises us that “if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
The only “prerequisite” for such an enjoyable experience is for us to have a “broken heart.” So let us have our hearts broken at the foot of the Cross and allow Christ to be the most loving and neighborly Neighbor in the Universe. And, make no mistake about it: there will be music coming from this Neighbor. But it won’t be the blaring kind that comes from our other neighbors. It will be the quiet and melodious singing of the Universe’s greatest tenor! Thus, this promise in Zephaniah will be fulfilled: “The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save: He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).