When my neighbor mentioned being saved, my ears perked up. Religion and faith commitments had not come up in previous conversations. To this point, talk centered on tattoos, birthday parties, and the lovely things our children do.
Interaction among neighbors is common where we live. Our neighborhood is free-range. Kids roam the streets, fight with water balloons, play princesses, invent clubhouses, and fight witches. They also trample our grass and pillage our fruit bowl. Liz and I always intend our home to be a place of peace and welcome. The flies and ants and children have taken advantage. Parents are slower to respond.
The other night we hosted a bonfire. Kids flocked to the fire pit. They roasted marshmallows, chased one another, and stretched the limits of bedtime. We made a special effort to invite parents, and several responded. I strummed my guitar while they chatted. Two times during the conversation, one of the parents slipped in "when I was saved."
My wife and I picked up on this. I started strumming the chords to Amazing Grace. My wife invited the neighbor over to share more of her story.
I have mixed emotions about this "saved/unsaved" language. It can be exclusive and turn people into targets. It can also inspire us to be better neighbors. As someone who has enjoyed following Jesus, I want others to share in the same comfort and hope. I want people to be saved. And I want them to gather on our lawn.