Who is My Neighbor?

Well, it’s been a bit of a challenging past two weeks. We’ve seen a lot of great first steps towards justice and choosing to recognize that there is still a deep problem in the world.

How is it hard to choose to support and lift up the voices who are unheard? For my fellow believers, how are we not at the forefront of loving others?

We must all continue to look at ourselves and see how we can be a positive voice for the unheard. What I have seen is what happens time and time again; we are choosing to look for other narratives because the current makes us uncomfortable. It’s easier to look at a small issue, rather than address the hundreds of years’ worth of hate and prejudice.  

I’m not trying to harp on things I saw and interactions I had over the past two weeks, I would just like to help everyone (especially my brothers and sisters in Christ) understand that being uncomfortable is okay. Challenging the norm is okay. Changing your opinions after seeing evidence and doing research is okay. Winning an argument doesn’t help, what does, is truly loving your neighbor.

Jesus called us to “go and do likewise.”

The scripture I used in my previous post, has a little bit of a part two for all of us. You see, in the book of Luke, we have a teacher of the law asking how to inherit eternal life, which Jesus tells him to look at the law. The teacher responds by saying it is to love the Lord and love your neighbor. After Jesus confirms that this is the truth, the teacher isn’t satisfied. Luke 10:29 says, “But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, who is my neighbor?”

There is a key point to the question he asks, and it is a question we all tend to ask. The text says, he wanted to justify himself, meaning he really wasn’t loving everyone. We all often act differently around people we might not like. You know, it’s the mindset you get when you see someone at the store you used to go to school with and maybe don’t really like a whole lot. The teachers of the law at this time often loved people that would benefit their own lives, you know, people whose pockets may have been a bit deeper than the rest.

Jesus is pretty clear, your neighbor, means everyone, always.

Jesus responds with a parable, a story to explain the truth that your neighbor, is everybody. The parable is of the good Samaritan. A man is robbed and left to die on the road, two people walk past, one of them being a priest, yet they both do nothing to help a dying man. We then see a Samaritan, I should mention that people from Jerusalem hated Samaritans, and vice versa. But the Samaritan chooses to not only help, but do as much as he possibly can. Jesus was intentional with this story.

He calls out racial prejudice, he calls out passive believers, and he brings to light the example of how much we should love others.

I encourage you to read the story, meditate on the words. Look at the example Jesus is calling you into. You are capable of saving lives by true acts of love.

The end of the parable, Jesus puts it back on the teacher by asking him who was the neighbor to the man that was robbed. Verse 37 says, “The expert in the law replied, the one who had mercy on him.

Jesus told him, go and do likewise.”

I wanted to write about this because I need to remind myself of the same. My neighbor is everyone made in the image of God. It’s not a political choice to speak up for the unheard, to stand together, and to help bring change to the way life has always been. I didn’t write this past week because I wanted to make sure I myself was growing in Christ. I don’t really want to engage with people on social media, I don’t feel like good traction can be made there. What I want to do, is look at myself and address the prejudice I have. I want to help support the voices who have experienced this pain and let them speak loudest. I want to make sure I am reading scripture daily and drinking from the well that doesn’t run dry. I want to make sure I am active in financially supporting and verbally encouraging those who have been fighting for so long.

I choose to be a neighbor who loves all people, especially those who don’t look like me. Choose to love others, because you have been made with purpose.

-Joshua Thomas

About the Author: Joshua Thomas is a writer by day and superhero by night. When he’s not writing and crimefighting, you can find him reading a good book, sipping warm tea, taking pictures, or dreaming. The young writer doesn’t fully know what he’s doing, but is enjoying the journey of it all. You can tweet memes at him on Twitter @joshua_thomas__ or follow his hipster photos and Jack Kerouac musings on Instagram @joshua_thomas__

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