Jesus Really Loves HIM?!

30 03 2010

I’m pretty sure that Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as yourself” because he knew that 2,000 years in the future, people like me would be living in apartment complexes.

When we moved to Oakville, Tyler and I purposely picked an apartment on the top floor to ensure that we wouldn’t hear, see, or smell our neighbors (despite the fact that we’ve always gotten along well with all of our other neighbors, even hanging out on the weekends with them at our last apartment). We not only moved an entire apartment full of furniture up the grueling three flights of stairs and potty-trained a puppy in the middle of winter on those same slick steps, but we also daily haul our groceries and mail up and down those stairs.

Worth the sacrifice? Yes. We can’t hear anyone else clomping around above us. We can’t hear our neighbors blasting their music at ten o’clock. We don’t have to suffer through the irritation of hearing squeaky laundry machine early in the morning.

Until Mr. Burn-Out arrived.

Nothing, to my knowledge, has ever gotten both of us more steamed than Mr. Burn-Out.

Mr. Burn-Out, if you haven’t guessed, is our downstairs neighbor. He’s a chain-smoking, beer-guzzling, screamo-music-blasting, unemployed twenty-something. He lets his trash pile up outside his door daily. He blasts his music and Playstation at full volume after midnight on week nights. He goes nowhere and seemingly has no friends, which means he has more time to stand outside on his porch and smoke unfiltered cigarettes all day and all night, while using his deck as a platform for hacking up phlegm and spitting it into the bushes below.

The most irritating thing about this guy is that he just doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Despite the fact that all of the neighbors in our complex have their windows fully open on a beautiful day and obviously slam them shut when he steps out on his porch to smoke, he hasn’t changed his smoking pattern. He smokes religiously, every twenty minutes. All day. All night. Every day. And that smoke drifts right up to our porch and windows, filling our entire apartment with noxious fumes.

Thanks to Mr. Burn-Out, we can’t sit outside on our porch for more than twenty minutes at a time without gagging on his smoke. We have to constantly monitor the clock and quickly stop whatever we’re doing to jump up and frantically shut all of the windows before his fumes pour in and stink up our apartment.

For a while this fall, we just gave up. We just suffered through it, letting the smoke swirl around inside our home. Until I discovered that our clothes reeked of smoke for days afterwards.

Tyler and I have both reported him several times, when he’s blasted his music past midnight. He hasn’t changed. We’ve both talked to the apartment manager regarding his irritating smoking habit. Their response? “We have an apartment open on the first floor, if you’d like to move.”

Right. Why wouldn’t we want to drag all of our stuff down three floors and set up in a new place?

Instead, we’ve pacified ourselves with things we could do to drive the message home to him that we’re hopping mad. Some of our thoughts include buying a gigantic, industrial-sized fan and laying it facedown on the porch. Whenever he lights up, we turn the fan on and blast his toxic smoke back to him. We also played with the possibility of buying him an electric water vapor cigarette. And then spelling out “YOU’RE KILLING YOURSELF–AND US” in cigarette gum on his front door.

I know, I know. I’m not loving my neighbor. I should. But I can’t.

We all have our sinful side, don’t we?

What’s truly amazing to me is that Jesus loves Mr. Burn-Out. Dearly.

And if I claim to be a follower of Jesus, I should try to love him, too.

Jesus is just darn lucky that cigarettes weren’t invented yet when He walked the earth. If they were, he might’ve changed his command from “Love your neighbor as yourself” to “Love your neighbor, provided he’s not a chain-smoking blockhead with an ugly tattoo and Halloween decorations up on his porch in March.”

Ok. So Jesus is obviously perfect, while I am clearly not.

It sure is hard to change my stubborn heart. And thank God, He understands that…and forgives me, too.

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