By now, most of us have been working from home or social distancing for over a week.
Coronavirus news has us all on edge, and it’s easy to spiral into selfishness and worry.
But as Christians, we have an opportunity to reach out to our neighbors in practical ways.
Here are 5 ways God may be calling you to love your neighbors:
1. Pray for your neighborhood and the people around you.
Prayer should always be our first response to an uncertain or scary situation.
God tells us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) and the coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.
Think about the needs of your neighbors and pray accordingly. Set aside some time to pray with your family and shift the focus from your own struggles to the needs of those around you.
Maybe you can even take a prayer walk through your neighborhood! Due to virus concerns, this may be best done alone or in a very small group, but it’s helpful to walk past your neighbors’ houses and think about each family or individual as you pray.
Pray that God will move powerfully to turn your neighbors’ hearts toward Him in this lonely and difficult time. Pray that He will also provide for their physical, mental, and emotional needs.
2. Deliver groceries and other essentials to your elderly or shut-in neighbors.
Due to their medical fragility, the elderly and people with disabilities are advised to stay inside and away from other people as much as possible. This can make grocery shopping or errands difficult, especially if they were unprepared for social distancing.
Offer to pick up groceries or other essentials for your shut-in neighbors. You don’t even have to go into their house to make deliveries—you can just drop the bags off at their front door!
Your neighbors may need someone to pick up medicine, return library books, or mail packages. Make sure they know you are available to run those errands!
God will show Himself through our willingness to serve others and meet their needs (John 12:26).
3. Communicate often and intentionally with those around you.
Quarantine and social distancing are isolating practices. While many of us have the blessing of being shut in with our spouses or families, chances are that someone in your neighborhood lives alone.
Make a point of communicating with your neighbors. Although most of us probably prefer face-to-face communication, technology is incredibly useful at a time like this, and we can be deeply thankful that God has provided phones, computers, and internet to let us talk to each other.
Call your neighbors or, if you have the capacity, video chat with them. It’s important for us to see other people and know they’re out there.
It’s also a great time to start writing letters! Most of your neighbors would love to find a handwritten card or letter in their mailbox — it’s a tangible reminder of your presence and your care.
Set aside some time each day to communicate with your neighbors. Maybe you can call some families while your children draw pictures or write cards for others!
Pray for deep conversations about real issues. One of the blessings in an uncertain time like the current pandemic is that our neighbors are often willing to talk about spiritual topics and see the Gospel in a different light.
4. Support local small businesses who are facing the possibility of going out of business.
Many local small businesses operate on tight margins. If they lose just a week’s worth of revenue, they face the very real possibility of shutting down.
Shutting down not only means a loss of income for the small business owners, but also for all the workers who are laid off.
While there’s no way to completely make up for lost revenue, every order and every purchase will help keep local small businesses going and ease the loss.
Many local restaurants are still offering to-go orders or delivery to stay in business amidst social distances. Many food delivery apps have completely waived delivery fees as well.
Instead of canceling date night, consider ordering take out from your favorite local restaurant and having date night in.
5. Donate prayerfully to food pantries and other charities.
Food insecurity is a huge struggle for many families and individuals right now.
School closures, layoffs, and unemployment have left many of our neighbors—and many of us—unable to put three meals on the table each day. The ministry of food pantries and other charities is extremely necessary right now.
Look up your local food pantry and see if they are accepting volunteers. If you can’t work in the pantry, consider donating money or nonperishable food items instead.
It’s a good time to update your list of local charities as well. Do some research and figure out which organizations are helping the needy in your city, and if they’re sharing the Gospel as they do it.
Pray over your neighborhood and ask God what He would have you do! He can use the love and service of His people to transform a world in need of hope.
Let’s “let [our] light shine before others, that they may see [our] good deeds and glorify [our] Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).