If talking to your neighbours makes you anxious, you’re not alone

What should you do when God is calling you to talk to someone new, but you're held back by fear?


“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover” (Mark 14:12-16).

I felt impressed to do it but I was scared. This wasn’t my specialty. I was shy. What if they said no? What should I say? Like Moses in the desert I was making excuses to God. I knew what had to be done. We’d been learning at church how important it was to connect with our neighbours and with our community and I knew we had the right event and the right time to make it happen. It didn’t make it any easier.

Luckily, I had my own Aaron, sent by God to help me speak—my wife. She barrelled up to our neighbour’s door and knocked while I stood sheepishly next to her. I sent up a silent prayer. “God, please help our neighbours to accept this invitation into our home for my wife’s birthday party.” And then the door opened. And they smiled and said they’d love to come. And as we gave them the details I felt a bit silly. God had gone before.

I can imagine being one of the disciples who Jesus sent to prepare a place to celebrate Passover. They knew what they had to do. They had clear instructions. “Follow this particular man, ask the home owner, everything will fall into place.”

Still, I wonder if they had doubts. I know I would have. What if we follow the wrong man, what if it’s not ready, how can he know these things? I’m sure they were understandably worried. But they went and found that the way had been prepared before them.

We also need to believe that God’s already gone ahead of us to prepare.

How often in Christian life, we clearly hear the message God is trying to give us? We know what we should do but it’s hard. It takes us out of our comfort zone, out of control. I don’t know about you, but the place I least enjoy being in is out of control. I knew I had to reach out and make an effort to get to know our neighbours but it was scary. And looking back, my trepidation seems silly.

They attended the party and had a great time. We’ve subsequently swapped food, eaten in each others homes and I’ve had the opportunity to pray for them.

If we’re going to follow Jesus, then we need to go in faith. The disciples could have chosen their own plan. They could have tried to find suitable quarters, organised enough furniture and used their connections. Instead they followed Jesus’ instructions. They had enough faith to trust that what he had asked of them would be accomplishable if they did it. And so they went.

We also need to believe that God’s already gone ahead of us to prepare. There is no question that God sometimes calls us to do things that make us uncomfortable. But we have to believe that He calls us to do these things because He knows better than we do what will happen when we do. Don’t get me wrong, just because God prepares situations for us before we arrive there doesn’t mean they will all be rosy and life will be easy. The disciples didn’t know that, in this particular room, they would eat the “last supper” and that the walls of their world were about to come crashing down. Still, they did what they were asked and the outcome was the one God intended.

Although God has a plan, we are asked to take part in it. Jesus sent the disciples to find the room and make arrangements. They still had to prepare the meal, ready for Passover. And we can also learn something from the homeowner, who is approached by the disciples. When the Teacher calls, we must put our homes, our resources and ourselves at His disposal. I continue to pray the prayer I prayed when my wife and I first found our apartment—that it would be a home used for Kingdom ministry. When we prayed that prayer, we expected to have our family and friends around and anyone we knew that needed a place to stay or wanted to come hang out. But little did we know that God would also open our home to our neighbours.

This post was originally titled “Open home”.
Updated and reposted on May 13, 2020.