Recently, I heard a man of God point out how we’ve removed the “neighbor” from “neighborhood” and simply call it a “hood”. He reminded people to watch how we label with our mouths. This man had an excellent point and it reminded me of various scriptures regarding the word ‘neighbor’. You may not care because you may see it as just an abbreviated word but let’s take a look into this anyway.
In so many ways, the Bible repeatedly tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus constantly discussed this. The scriptures reminded me of how the word ‘neighbor’ represents accountability, trust, compassion, grace, community, and most of all, how the Lord uses the neighbor as a main tool to express God’s love. The world dropped neighbor and called it a mere “hood”. The church has perpetuated this. We have dropped an entire identity of people taught by God which helps center one of His messages—to love one another in obedience, love and honor to God.
The Lord identifies people as neighbors—a people called to connect. In Hebrew and greek translations neighbor can mean companion, someone nearby, a fellow or brother. By calling our communities ‘hoods’, we are essentially saying we aren’t connected and therefore don’t have to respect, view or treat people lovingly; that we can treat them any kind of way. In a way, it’s declaring, “We aren’t neighbors. It’s every man for himself”. It’s suggesting that the “hood” is merely a place where people dwell and it’s survival of the fittest.
After considering this, look at the culture around the word ‘hood’. Look in the ‘hood. It too often reveals the complete opposite message that Christ teaches. He teaches to do no harm to your neighbor, to love them and tell them the truth. The ‘hood represents no love and many hurts, offenses, rivalries, murder, deceit, hypocrisy, abuse and various other crimes between neighbors. A ‘hood is a bastardized version of neighborhood suggesting that there is no Father, no discipline, no love and no care.
In the Christian hip-hop community we also commonly refer to neighborhoods as “hoods”. However, we recognize the exact problems I just mentioned and work to bring the solution. We know the “hood” is in trouble and in need of the Lord. Maybe we haven’t all consciously realized the problem with dropping the neighbor out of neighborhood but we understand its need for Christ. We know it’s a dark place and that we have to shine His light and teach how He wants us to be neighbors and not ‘hoods.
The Lord doesn’t desire that we be Fatherless bastards who lean on our own understanding and the false doctrines and ideologies of the ‘hood. He wants us to experience and value counsel with His Holy Spirit and give us peace. By His Spirit He wants to teach us how to love one another. He wants to reconcile and restore these relationships through Him. We can’t say we love God who we can’t see when we don’t even love our brother who we can see (1 John 4:20).
Consider the following scriptures when comparing the labels, “neighborhood” to “hood”.
“Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you.” Proverbs 3:29
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.” Romans 15:2
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
There are many more scriptures on how to treat our neighbors. What are your thoughts about dropping the ‘neighbor’ out of ‘neighborhood’? Comment below.