Medium-Sized Faith Questions: What Does it Mean to Love Your Neighbor?

Hey lovelies. I hope you’ve been having a good week. My week has been okay. My coworker turned in her resignation earlier in the week and few days later someone else in my agency turned hers in. My counterpart on the female side of my program had her last day this week as well. We have new people starting and other planning to leave over the next couple of months. You know, all kinds of fun stuff.

This week the question is “What does it mean to love your neighbor?” I wanted to write about this for a while now. And it just so happens that we had a three week series on this at church. Because of all that I decided to writ this now instead of waiting until I did some of the questions I deem more essential to the foundation of Christianity. Though, this question is also fundamental to the faith.

If we look in Matthew 22:34-40, we see Jesus being asked being asked what the greatest commandment is. Here is Jesus’ response (v37-39), “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”

To love your neighbor as yourself is the second greatest commandment. So what does that mean? And who is our neighbor?

During our sermon series on neighbors, one of the big ideas was “Don’t ask: Who is my neighbor? Ask: Am I a neighbor?” When we ask who is our neighbor we limit ourselves. It gives us an excuse for not helping someone else.

One Bible story tends to come to mind when speaking on neighbors: The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 (NIV)

The priest and Levite in the story chose not to be neighbors to the man in need. The Samaritan did. The religious leaders in the story did not choose to help, while the man who is looked down on for his cultural background did help. Anyone can be a neighbor. Too often those we expect to be a neighbor, those who like to show how great or caring they are, fall short.

Being a neighbor isn’t a call to save the world, but instead a call to help you encounter in your daily life. The homeless person on the corner, the person living next door, the waitress at your favorite resturant, and the couple you run into almost every week are just a few examples of who your neighbors are. Helping those around you makes you a neighbor.

Loving your neighbor is caring for the people you encounter. My small group helped someone pack up there moving van during our group time. I could have said “no thanks. This is your neighbor, not mine,” Or “I just got off work. I’m too tired to help.” But I didn’t. It was a bit of an inconvenience. I didn’t have time to change after work and snagged my dress pants and the mosquitos thought I tasted delicious. I had to interact with someone I don’t know which is one of my least favorite things and manual labor. But you now what, I’m glad I helped out. Most of my group legitimately could not make it. I was the only one there aside from the couple who hosts the group. And it was great.

Even though it remined me why I hate moving, it was an opportunity to serve. Also a chance to pray for someone who hadn’t really had that happen before. We were able to show her that she is loved, not only by us, but also by God.

So I’m going to end this post with something for the sermon a few weeks ago about what neighboring is. And since I’ve been referencing it, I link to the video of the sermon, Am I a Neighbor?

Neighboring is:

1) needed

2) inconvenient

3) crossing lines

4) costly

Lovelies, take time to love your neighbors. Reach out to those in need. You don’t need to think about helping everyone in the world, instead help those placed in your life wherever you may go. I will talk to you lovelies soon.

Sources (slightly cited properly):

Pastor Matt Wolf. “Am I a Neighbor?” Stapleton Church.

New International Version Bible

My noggin

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