Who is my Neighbor?

For the last several weeks, there have been tensions among different groups in the United States. Slogans such as “Black Lives Matter” or “Blue Lives Matter” have come to the forefront. With it being an election year, it could also be said that the media has had a part in fanning tensions. This post is not meant to be a political post though and does not give my opinion on who is right or who is wrong. It is more how my thinking about this topic has personally impacted me and how a sermon I heard yesterday impacted me as well.

Who is my neighbor? Jesus had a lot to say about that, and it was very different from what establishment Judaism thought. Like I have said in previous posts, most Jews during that time loved people who were most like them. Isn’t that what we do today? We love and care about the people who are most like us, and we are afraid of those who are different.

Jesus wasn’t like that at all though, and there are many stories in the New Testament that demonstrate this. The one I want to tell today is about the Good Samaritan. A teacher of the law, trying to trap Jesus, asked Him who his neighbor was after correctly stating what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. (Luke 10:27) The next verses tell the story.

“In reply Jesus said: ‘A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?’ The expert in the law replied, ‘The one who had mercy on him.’ Jesus told him, ‘Go and do likewise.'”  (Luke 10:30-37)

The point of this story is that the person who helped the injured man was the one who was most unlike him. There was no love lost between the Jews and the Samaritans. The people of that day would have understood the point Jesus was trying to make. But, do we? Do we have the courage to overcome our fears and show Jesus to the ones who are most unlike us?

I don’t know. I will be fully transparent and tell you I don’t have a lot of courage on my own. There are things I know I should do that I don’t do, and there are things I don’t do that I know I should do. Any demonstration of my faith is a result of Jesus being in me, plain and simple. He is the one who gives me the courage to overcome my fears, and He is the one I need to go to when life overwhelms me.

Now that I’ve said all that, it’s time to go to the practical example or the story of how this relates to me. I almost don’t want to share this with you because it’s something that’s in the deepest recesses of my heart. But, that’s where God has been working so share it I will. There are some women in my life who make me feel inadequate, make me feel like I don’t quite measure up. Women who make me feel like the least of God’s daughters. They have characteristics that I associate with true womanhood whereas the characteristics I have and the things I like are not often associated with true womanhood. At least they’re not in this world.

Anyway, this morning, during my devotion, a thought came to me, and I knew it was from God. He said I needed to pray for these women, pray for His presence in their lives, pray for Him to bless them. The whole nine yards. I was like, ‘No, God. They think I’m stupid. I’m nothing like them, and they’re only nice to me because they have to be.’ And then He said the convicting words. ‘Do you mean it when you say you want to be my child? Do you mean it when you say you want to show my light? I will give you courage, daughter. In return, I ask for this from you. Your worth is in what I think of you. Nothing else. And I loved you enough to send Jesus to die on the cross for you. That is enough.’ It eased my heart and gave me courage. Then I did what God had asked of me. I prayed for these women.

Maybe that’s what we need to do first. Maybe we should pray for the people who are different from us. And after we have prayed and received God’s guidance, maybe we will gain the courage to approach these people and actually have relationships with them despite the differences. Because, after all, God does love ALL of us–loves us enough that He sent His Son to die on a cross for us.

God’s blessings on all of you today!

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