Well, here we are in the year 2021 and many people thought that all of the unrest and uncertainties of 2020 would disappear. But as we’ve witnessed what happened at our nation’s capital, we can resolve that we still have a long way to go. What ever happened to loving thy neighbor?
Thousands of years ago, a lawyer stood up to test Jesus with a question. It’s silly to think that someone would attempt to test or trick Jesus, but this lawyer did. His question was about how to inherit eternal life, and Jesus answered “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Jesus’s answer, as recorded in Luke chapter 10, exposed something that this lawyer was lacking. The text states “‘But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?’” Notice that the lawyer was attempting to justify himself; it’s obvious that this man was trying to cover up an internal problem that he’d been battling…loving others.
But the question still remains, ‘Who is my neighbor?’ In other words, who is it that I’m supposed to love as much as I love myself? Jesus replies with a story, because a story is worth a thousand words. He tells of a man who was leaving Jerusalem and was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. And three people passed the man along the road, a priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan.
The priest and Levite, both viewed high on the religious ladder and in the community, would surely be expected to assist the man, but surprisingly neither of them did. But the Samaritan, the one least expected to assist due to the historical tensions between Jews and Samaritans, took the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, and went above and beyond in his aid to the helpless man.
Not only was he a Samaritan, but maybe he’s someone who knows how it feels to be rejected; very often the best people to help you are those who have experienced what you’re going through. You may remember the children’s television show ‘Mr. Rogers Neighborhood’. Mr. Rogers had a difficult childhood; he was shy, introverted, overweight, bullied, lonely, and was frequently homebound after suffering bouts of asthma. But his own hardships helped him become a leading influence for writers and producers of children’s television shows.
So, how do we determine who our neighbor is? As followers of God, we must recognize that the one thing we all have in common is that we’re all made in the image of God. This one commonality is greater than all of our differences combined. And our priority should focus on our likenesses, not our differences.
If you read the entire story you’ll see that the Samaritan went far beyond just helping the man on the road. He bandaged his wounds, poured oil on him, put the Jew on his donkey, took him to a hotel, continued to care for him, and paid the hotel bill. Imagine that!
This was more than just a good deed, it was maximizing an opportunity. You and I have numerous opportunities a week to be someone’s neighbor…the kind of neighbor that would exemplify the hands, feet, and heart of Jesus. Remember, the greatest qualification to being a ‘neighbor’ is that we’re all made in the image of God.
What opportunities do you have right now to be a neighbor to someone? Don’t hesitate, take the challenge to live out the words of Christ, and let’s make the world a better place to live in.
Be healthy, stay safe, and be blessed!