‘Neighborhoods are spiritual places’
“Neighborhoods are spiritual places.” A town councilman, suggested I expand on what that means. Let me try.
Neighborhoods are spiritual places because they can reflect the love of God through the kindness of the people living there. Love and kindness are spiritual qualities. In the neighborhood where I live, my neighbors help each other with snow management and other practical needs as they arise. This is a reflection of a beautiful spiritual reality.
Several of my friends have had art exhibits throughout the valley and I’ve enjoyed viewing their paintings, photography, poetry, crafts and computer graphics. Our church members create crafts, decorations and other art. One of them created a large, beautiful stained-glass display that hangs in our lobby. Their skills, imagination and creativity are a mirror of God’s incredible genius.
I have written several songs and I gave the music CDs to fellow pastors. One of them said, “Dan, I enjoyed the music and the lyrics but mostly I enjoyed the insights it gave me into who you are.” Our music is a reflection of our human spirit and God’s spirit and by extension a window into the spiritual nature of our communities. (PS: My music is a mixture of country gospel and southern gospel. I’ll send a CD, totally free, to anyone who contacts me and asks for one.)
I love looking out our church windows onto Nottingham Park and Beaver Creek. I love seeing the city lights reflected in the lake at night and watching the storms pass through the valley. Only God could create the white snow, blue skies, green grasses and majestic mountains — only God could do that, but man did the landscaping and built the beautiful homes. In fact, the last time God put on a tool belt was in Nazareth, working in Mary and Joseph’s carpenter shop. But, when God and man work together, beautiful neighborhoods are created.
To me, all of these, the architecture, landscaping, art, music, crafts, decor etc., all are extensions of God’s love. Paul wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Such positive thoughts and loving actions infuse beautiful spiritual reality into our communities.
Finally, neighborhoods are spiritual places because, tragically, they can reflect the reality of the evil spirit of Satan at work in human hearts (Ephesians 2:2). Arrogance, prejudice, anarchy and conflict of all kinds are the spiritual symptoms of the spiritual reality of the spiritual battle being fought all around us for the minds, hearts and spirits of all mankind. Jesus said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come — sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23).
As goes the human heart, so goes the neighborhood and the nation. Let us follow the example of Jesus who taught us to resist evil and love our neighbors as ourselves. The apostle Paul wrote,
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, made himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow (Philippians 2:5-10).