Love your neighbor. Who is my neighbor? What does it mean for me to love my neighbor? You know, asking these questions in the current climate can be dangerous, but I think they were probably pretty dangerous and revolutionary when Jesus first told the disciples too. Let us take a quick look back to Luke 10:25- 37.
So the question of who is my neighbor comes up after an expert in the religious law asked Jesus what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus did not give him an answer, but asked him a question about what the law says. “The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (v. 27) To this Jesus basically said well you have the answer do this and you will live. The man then asked, who is my neighbor?
I love when Jesus responds with a parable because by telling a story, he gives them a visual of what He is trying to teach them. We still use this type of teaching today (object lesson anyone). Jesus then tells them the story of the good Samaritan (that was probably the most shocking part of the story for them). Here I am going to just put the passage here for you in case you don’t already know this story.
Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side. Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’ (V. 30-35)
Jesus then asked who was this man’s neighbor, to which the expert in religious law says the one who showed him mercy. Jesus tells him to do the same.
So the question today is who is my neighbor? How do I love them? Recently this question has been bouncing in my mind because I have seen some things within the Church and Christian community where we are not loving out neighbors at all. In fact, we are telling our neighbors we do not value to, you do not matter to us. When we come across with this mindset and attitude, our neighbors who may not be Christian are not seeing God’s love through us or in us. They are seeing someone that makes them feel less than. Value and worth are two things that we struggle with on our own, without any help from other right? Do we think that our neighbors are also struggling with value and worth? Did you really think you were the only one struggling with your value as a person or your worth? You are not alone; people struggle with this constantly. This is one of the ways that the enemy likes to attack people and control them. God is where our value and worth are found, and when we are able to see that, we are able to walk confident in calling and destiny and purpose. We may still struggle but we know where to turn. For those that have not seen their value or worth in God, they are wandering lost, and constantly under attack. As the Church, maybe we need to remind people that they have value, that we value them. When we begin to show God’s love through us, lives are transformed. When we love those who are different than us we are a light in darkness. While we may not agree on their actions, behaviors or thoughts, we still need to value the person. I challenge you today to ask yourself who is my neighbor? How do I show them love? How do I demonstrate that they are valued?