Why Be A Better Neighbor #3: Keep You Out Of Trouble


As Christians, we typically think of helping people in ways that everyone would agree are good. We fix something. Or we provide an item or service. We teach someone a skill or a concept. We provide help in ways that everyone would agree is good.

But what about when the kind of help someone needs borders on the line of being illegal? Can you still offer that kind of help? Would you be okay accepting that kind of help?

Well, luckily for us, our neighbor decided he was willing to cross that line for us.

Your neighbors will help you stay out of trouble

One day I (Sarah) arrived home to find a parking enforcement officer trying desperately to write a ticket. The ticket was intended for our car, which was parked in front of our house.

This isn't as strange as it might sound. We live within the city limits of Sacramento. Our block requires a permit to park on the street longer than 2 hours, and our permit had been expired for about a month. 

Sounds like a pretty simple ticket to write, right? Mark the tire with chalk. Come back 2 hours later. Print it out and move along. Well, not in our neighborhood.

Because, our neighbor happened to see what was about to happen, and he intervened. Even though we technically deserved that ticket, our neighbor disagreed.

Now, you might think he gently and tactfully persuaded this public servant from doing her job. But no. He tried. But she was on a mission. So, instead, he actively prevented her from finishing her task.

He told her we would only be a few minutes. He promised the car would be moved. He even tried appealing to her sense of loyalty to a fellow Sacramento resident.

But she wasn't having any of that.

So, our neighbor literally stood between this woman and her duties. He blocked her view, so she couldn't see the license plate. He interrupted her thought every time she tried to type anything into her little ticket writing machine. And, when that didn't work...well, maybe we shouldn't really go into all the details. But, rest assured, he never touched her or her ticket machine.

The meter maid threatened to have our neighbor arrested for obstruction of the law multiple times during this incident. She said she would call the cops if he didn't leave. But our neighbor called her bluff.

And, it was in the middle of this spectacle that I pulled up in front of our house. 

As all 3 kids poured out of the minivan, the woman asked me if the car belonged to me. I told her it did, and that I would move it immediately. To which our neighbor exclaimed, "See! I told you!" And she left.

Our neighbor had risked jail time so that we would not have to pay a $36 fine. 

Would you have done the same?

We've had to ask ourselves this question: How far would we go to help our neighbors? 

Now, obviously we're not going to murder for our neighbors. And we're not going to commit blatant crimes to show our loyalty. This isn't Boyz N the Hood or The Sopranos

But we think it's important for Christians to ask themselves what they would do in similar circumstances. When we saw what lengths our neighbor went to to help us, we felt very cared for. 

Don't misunderstand us here. We are not trying to make a stand either way. We aren't telling you we think you have to be willing to break the law to show the love of Christ to people. But, we do think it's a conversation worth having. 

So let's have it!

Join us in the comments and share your thoughts.

Should we show love to our neighbors in ways that could get us into trouble with the law? Or would this weaken our witness?

What might be the pros and cons of each option?

What role should our conscience play in this? Or the Holy Spirit's prompting?

We are really looking forward to where this conversation will go. So don't be shy. Share an opinion...even if you're unsure about it.

And better yet, hit the Facebook button in the sidebar and see where this conversation goes with your friends involved! This could get very interesting...