Who is my neighbor?Dec 22, 2020 09:03AM ● By Vic Stinemetze
For many, January couldn’t get here fast enough.
Much has happened this year. It started with an impeachment hearing in the Senate. Then the COVID-19 virus hit our shores. All of a sudden, our economy was shut down and we were asked to stay home to slow its spread. Borders closed. Schools and non-essential businesses closed. Churches and meetings moved to virtual services and platforms like Zoom.
During 2020, we also saw demonstrations as groups of people marched for social justice reform. Then, we watched a contentious election process where nearly half our country voted for one presidential candidate and half for the other. Yes, 2020 will go down as a historic year.
But what about 2021? Will the divisions that rocked our nation continue? Will the church of America remain segregated and divided by sectarian ideologies and beliefs, as it has in the past?
Jesus prayed of his followers in John 17, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you...May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
In Luke chapter 10, a religious leader asked Jesus, “What must I do to have eternal life?” Jesus replied by asking him, “What does the law of Moses say? The man recites the scriptures that say we are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as our- selves. Jesus replied, “You are right. Do this and you will live.”
But then the religious leader followed up with the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with a parable—a story about a man who was badly beaten, robbed and left by the side of the road to die.
A priest came by, but moved to the other side of the road and passed on by. A temple assistant came by and looked, but likewise passed on the other side of the road.
Finally, a Samaritan man came by. Jews in Jesus’ day thought Samaritans were unclean and to be avoided. But, this Samaritan man stopped, cleaned up the injured Jew’s wounds, applied medicine, loaded him onto his donkey and took him to the nearest town. He took care of him through the night and then gave the innkeeper mon- ey, asking him to take care of the man until he was healed.
Finally, Jesus asked the religious leader which one was the better neighbor. “The Samaritan man,” he answered. Jesus replied, “Yes. Now go and do the same.”
Who is my neighbor? You are my neighbor. The person down the street is my neighbor. Those with different ideologies and with different skin colors are my neighbors. Those in different socio-economic situations are my neighbors. Those that are homeless. Those who are sick. Those who are emotionally distraught and those who are mentally ill. Even those in prison. All of them are my neighbors. I am to love them as I love myself.
If we could each come to this mindset, there would be no division in America.
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