"Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls."
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (KJV)
Based on Luke 10:25-37, who is your neighbor and what do you find most challenging about loving your neighbor as yourself? What do you think God might be trying to teach you?
Luke 10:25-37 (KJV)25 And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?
26 He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?
27 And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.
28 And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.
29 But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?
30 And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.
32 And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side.
33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him,
34 And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.
35 And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.
36 Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?
37 And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Jesus says in Luke 10:25 to “an expert in the law” who questioned him about who his neighbor was, by basically answering the question with a question. Jesus knew the intention of the man’s heart and it wasn’t regarding whether the man lived next door or in the next country, but rather who he was “legally” obligated to love as Jesus commanded. The legalists of Jesus’ day were bound by their view of law and tradition, so much so that they missed out on the greatest love that ever walked our planet. Jesus was thorough to point out that not only did regular people pass by the man, but a priest, Levite, and then a Samaritan. Many of the most holy and blessed people you will ever meet never held office in a church, but are willing to be the hands and feet of Christ. By pointing out the variety of not just racial differences, but also social differences, Jesus was essentially explaining to the man who his neighbor was without saying it outright. He spoke in such ways so that if a person who was seeking the truth they would find it, but men asking questions just to trip Jesus up would miss the meaning every time. It was socially unacceptable for a Jew at that time to have any conversation with a Samaritan who was seen as essentially “unclean”. The only one who eventually helps the man of the parable was a Samaritan and certainly took good care of him, even taking responsibility for the resources used to do so. The man was offering to go into debt for the injured man with no guarantee of repayment. This is the blind and unconditional love that Jesus wants the man asking the question to picture; the love that has no strings attached and without an ulterior motive; the love that crosses all boundaries and barriers to care for another.
The neighbor as Jesus is in so many words answering, is simply anyone who is in need of helping. This help may be physical, mental, emotion, or spiritual. It may be local, it may be afar. No matter the circumstances we are to love our neighbors. For most of us, this is a challenge. No matter where we are raised or how, almost everyone has someone or some type of people that they fear or despise to deal with. A military brat may have had bad experiences growing up, so they may want to avoid dealing with military personnel. A man who grew up in a nice neighborhood may try to avoid being a blessing to the poor man from the inner-city. A religious person may not like to deal with people who grew up very different and rough around the edges, however all of these examples are our neighbor. Right now, many people in America don’t like dealing with Arab people or even anyone resembling that ethnicity. They really go negative when you mention the name “Islam”, which is certainly the product of media and politics. They fear these things and people because they are ignorant of the truth that Christ loves us all. We are commanded by him as the body of Christ to “love your neighbor as yourself.” This includes the man next door, the foreign religion, the unfamiliar culture, and anyone you come into contact with who is human. The most important thing that I get from this parable is the fact that like God tells us in Genesis 1:27 we are all created in “the image of God” and because we are all created in His image, we are all worth saving as neighbors.