Who is your neighbor?

It seems like every day I’m in conversation with someone who has a hard time with their friends, neighbors, co- workers, or acquaintances who think differently, vote differently, worship differently or act differently than they do. I feel like I’m constantly hearing people tear others down for a simple thought or belief. It’s like it costs us something to be in community with others who are different, when truthfully it should be enriching.

I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the good Samaritan, right? In the Bible, in Luke 10:25-37 Jesus tells a story. He was tested, see, and when he qualified the greatest commandment as loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself, he was asked one more question. “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus went on to tell the story of a man attacked by robbers. A priest didn’t help him, a Levite didn’t help him, but a Samaritan did. Now, Samaritans were not looked upon well by the Jews of Jesus’ time. They were of a mixed race and called derogatory terms like “half breed.” A Jew would not travel through Samaria. They would actually walk longer to avoid going through Samaria.

But, even though there was discord between the two people groups, even though they disliked and maybe even hated each other, the Samaritan helped this man. He realized that this man was his neighbor.

Helping the Jew cost money. I mean, he bandaged him up and poured oil and wine on his wounds. He put the guy on his donkey and went to an inn. He gave the innkeeper money and then also told him that if it costs more to let him know when he passed through in a couple of days. That comes with a cost. A financial cost.

But, when speaking with my neighbors who are quick to judge, to hate, and to name call do you know what comes to my mind? Do you know what the real cost was? A really heavy cost? This guy, this good Samaritian, had to go home. He had to tell his wife (He spent some money 🙂 ) or his buddies or co-laborers to watch out on the dangerous roads. He saw this guy who was beaten and robbed. They took everything. They left him for dead. He had to help. He probably explained what he did, or how he helped. And maybe they asked who he helped. Somehow it had to come out, right? Somehow, in the conversation, he had to have mentioned that this was a Jew. That probably cost him. Maybe more than the financial burden. At the least, he may have been ridiculed, teased. At the most, he could have lost friendships. “You helped who?” “What?” “Really?” The cost could have been high. And, being a good neighbor might come with a high cost for you, too. But, I’ve never heard anyone say that the Samaritian did the wrong thing. Jesus himself said that this was the right thing. This was what gives a man eternal life. (Luke 10:25)

Why are we so quick to judge? Why is it so hard to love our neighbor? Why are there toxic battles happening on social media every second of every day? Are we not willing to pay the price of loving our neighbor? Are we afraid of someone thinking that we are on the wrong “side?” Are we like the Pharisees, trying to “test” Jesus? Because, man, I would prefer to be on the wrong side of people than the wrong side of God any day. I would prefer to have people a little riled up because I’m doing the right thing than being disappointed in myself for doing the wrong thing.

How about you? Have you been one to incite trouble on the socials lately? Are you someone who easily calls your neighbor an “idiot” and dismisses them? Is it hard to truly love your neighbor?

Let’s give ourselves a re-do. If you haven’t been loving your neighbor as yourself, today is the day to start over. Today is the day to heal wounds. Today is the day to begin again.

How will you love your neighbor today?

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