Neighbors or Friends?

Living in the German state of Bavaria continues to be eye opening and fun filled adventure for Elizabeth and I. It has definitely tested our preconceptions and some of the habits that were ingrained in us coming from the United States.

One preconception was that on Sunday we thought we could mow the yard, wash the car or go to the Mall shopping. In Bavaria doing anything work related on Sunday in is a big no no. Sunday is family day. A day to spend biking, hiking, swimming, going to Church and relaxing with friends and family. Mowing the yard will bring the neighbors over to remind you that it’s not a day to make noise like that. Washing the car at home is illegal in Bavaria (yes illegal) and all the car washes are closed on Sunday. Shopping Malls and all grocery stores are also closed on Sunday in Bavaria. Sunday is family day. As the Bavarians say. God relaxed on Sunday so we will too! I must admit that its very nice to spend Sunday the way the Germans do.

Another preconception was that it’s difficult to meet Germans and really get to know them because of the language barrier. It didn’t take Lizzy and I too long to nix this preconception as our neighbors came over shortly after we moved in to welcome us to their little village of Mietraching, Germany. In fact I have yet to meet any Germans that refused to talk to me because my German wasn’t good enough or because my pronunciation was off. In fact all my neighbors know a little English and are genuinely interested in finding out about America, Americans and American culture. Our German neighbors are wonderful, welcoming people who have adopted Lizzy and I into the little village we call home.

And that’s what got me thinking about a quote from CS Lewis “In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,” can truly say to every group of Christian friends, “Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another.” The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.”

I think that’s exactly right. My neighbors who now are my friends were chosen for me by were you at God’s Grace. God brought us together to reveal to each of us the beauties of one another. That brings a smile to me because looking back on my initial days living a strange country, with people speaking a strange language and with strange customs I wondered if Lizzy and I did the right thing by moving to Germany for a few years. With hindsight I can read John 15:16 think of you and my German friends and see that God was looking out for Lizzy and I as He always has and always will. God is doing the same for you as well.

John 15:16 "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.

Hope you had a great 4th of July with your friends!

Your Bavarian Missionary,

Matt Schneider

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