Who Is My Neighbor? | Luke 10:25-37

Welcome to Real LifeLove your neighbor as yourself? It's a tall order.


“What’s she doing out in the cold?” Jill[1] was driving home on a blustery January afternoon and noticed her neighbor hobbling down the street. People walk the neighborhood all the time, even on cold winter days. But, Jill knew something was amiss for 90-year-old Shirley to be out. She pulled in her driveway, parked, and walked over to meet Shirley, “Are you okay? Where are you going? Let’s get you home.” She walked her neighbor safely back to the house. 

Shirley’s husband has been dealing with extended medical issues. People were re-arranging her home to accommodate his needs. Strangers were coming and going. The upheaval was just too much. So, Shirley took off down the street to clear her head. “You’re my best friend,” she gratefully told Jill as they walked home.

     _____

An expert in the law asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What’s the law say?” Jesus responded.

“‘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.’”

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

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

Jesus defines neighbor by telling a story:

A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho was robbed, beaten, and left for dead. A priest came by. When he saw the man, he passed by on the other side of the road. Then, a Levite came. He, too, saw the mangled man and kept going.

Finally, a Samaritan came by. He pitied the man who had been robbed. He stopped, bandaged his wounds, and transported him on his own donkey to the nearest inn. The Samaritan stayed the night, nursing the man. Before leaving the next morning, he paid the innkeeper. And, then, promised to pay for any additional charges the injured man might incur.

In conclusion, Jesus asked, “Which of the three was a neighbor to the man who was robbed?”
[2]

     _____

I'd call the injured man a stranger. Jesus called him a neighbor.

It’s plausible to love family, friends, even those living nearby. But, to love a stranger, isn’t that asking a bit much? To come to the aid of someone I don’t know can be downright dangerous in today's world. Scams to dupe compassionate hearts abound.

Yet, if I truly love God, I will love people created in his image. No one is a stranger. Jesus clearly stated that love should be the mark[3]—outstanding characteristic—of a Christ follower. So, why do we, the religious community (represented in the story by a priest and Levite), so often fail to love? Christians are stereotyped as many things. Merciful, compassionate, and loving don’t usually top the list. Why?

It can be tricky to separate myself from sin and stand for righteousness while reaching out in love to those who've suffered the damaging effects of sin. Yet, this is Jesus. Every life he touched, priest to prostitute, was a traveler lying half-dead on the roadside, robbed of Real Life and broken by sin.

Apart from Christ’s Spirit in me, I can’t love like this. It’s impossible. Selfishness comes too easily. It’s my natural response.

It would have been easier for Jill to walk into her warm house, say a prayer, and not enter into Shirley’s hardship. But, Jill chose love.

Who is my neighbor?



Lord, forgive my selfishness. I don’t love others well. Teach me, move me, love through me.


Do you have a neighbor story?  I'd love to hear it.

Taking it further …
[1] Jill and Shirley are fictitious names, but the account is real. 
[2] It's interesting that the least likely candidate, the Samaritan, stopped. Samaritans were disregarded as half-breeds, not pure Jews. Those who've been injured can often more easily empathize with those who are in pain.
[3] “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV).

Image "Elderly Woman" courtesy of africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Comments

  1. I'm honoust when I say I'm not very busy with religion, but I like how you write it down and implement it in your life.
    I can appreciate when people try to improve themselves to become a better person, not only to themselves but also when possible to others.
    Jill, in this case, had, in my humble opinion, an easy choice. How much would she have to fear from a 90 year-old woman? The choice of acting as a good samaritan was rather safely to do here.
    In other cases it might not turn out so well. And don't you also should threat yourself as a neighbor? If you would just step into any situation to help out, you might end up dead and that is no favor to anyone, including yourself. Your loved ones and other people, needy ones, would miss out on a lot of times with you, if you would carelessly try to be a good samaritan all the time for everybody in every situation. My two pennies. ;)

    Love your site design by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mirjam,
      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and commenting!
      And, I agree. We do need to be careful in who we stop to help. There are many dangerous people in this world. We need to be wise.
      Yet, more often, it's selfishness or business that stops me from helping others rather than fear. I can't help everyone, but I can help some. :)
      Peggi

      Delete
    2. Aren't you a bit too harsh on yourself? Is it really selfishness or business so often when you choose not to help out or by thinking someone else will come along soon to help out?
      It sure is truth you can't help everyone, unless that would be your only mission in life. Unfortunately, it mostly doesn't work that way. There is your own family to care for, there is work, household, administrative things. You simply can't be everywhere or all over the place.
      I think we do well if we at least think about helping others out from time to time and sometimes put those thoughts into action, when we can.

      To finish this comment, I like to thank you for stopping by on my blog and comment on the Kabul's Heart Crime article.

      Delete
  2. Oops. Meant busyness.
    Yes, Mirjam, there's always a balance in caring for our own needs and caring for other's needs. However, many of us are too focused on ourselves all the time. My blog is simply a reminder, from the Scriptures, to see others' needs and not only our own.

    Thanks so much for commenting. :) I enjoy reading your thoughts (on your blogs as well)!

    ReplyDelete

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