Who Is My Neighbor?

girl s white and gray crew neck top holding gray wire fence
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It’s officially Cyber Monday! Most of us are more than over Thanksgiving leftovers and welcoming the Christmas season. We’re preparing for Christmas plays and gift giving to the needy family our congregation adopts. Unfortunately, we woke up to pictures of migrant families being gassed on the day most believers observe the Sabbath. Those seeking refuge in America were met with resistance not open arms. Images of toddlers in pull ups being gassed! Families attempting to escape poverty, hunger and violence being gassed! Families seeking asylum being gassed! What’s worse is many believers are not troubled by these images.

Many of us claim to love the Lord while we have total disregard for His people. Our orthodoxy (belief) doesn’t always match our orthopraxy (practice/conduct). Christian women who are “waiting for their Boaz” tend to forget that Ruth was escaping famine and in essence a migrant worker seeking refuge. Believers forget that Moses floated down the river and was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter to save his life. Politicians who claim to run on Christian platforms forget that our savior, Jesus, was a refugee whose family fled to Egypt to avoid His untimely death.

We pass those in need daily and see them as eye sores and a drain on the economy. We disregard the widow and the orphan as someone else’s problem. We tend to turn a blind eye to others suffering but profess to be salt and light in a country that is overcast with hate and greed. In The Parable of the Good Smartian an expert of the law attempted to test Jesus:

…. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘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.”

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

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

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

Luke 10:25-37 NIV

 

The role of the Priest and Levite is explained in Numbers 18:5-7 NIV

“You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that my wrath will not fall on the Israelites again. I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the Lord to do the work at the tent of meeting. But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary is to be put to death.

Samaritans were a mixed people of Israelite and Gentile descent. Tension between the Jews and Samaritans can be seen throughout the Old and New Testaments. However, in the Parable of the Good Samaritan it is not the priest or the Levite who come to the aide of the traveler. The Samaritan cares and finds shelter for the man traveling from Jerusalem. When I read this parable it makes me question, who is my neighbor? Who am I called to help? Who am I called to comfort and provide assistance for? Are the needs of these Central American refugees only relevant when we travel on mission trips? Or are their needs only relevant when we ship new and gently used clothing to them? Should I only intervene when my actions make me look and feel good or when the realities of the world we live in don’t knock on my doorstep? Am I not called to meet their needs when they walk thousands of miles for the promise of a better life for their children? Or is the mass exodus of people groups only appropriate when indigenous people are marched across America on The Trail of Tears to steal their land making room for white settlers?

flag of usa
Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Pexels.com

The current climate of America is almost as if someone ripped the scab off a wound that has been festering under the surface. Unlike the words of Emma Lazarus quoted on our Statue of Liberty, this America does not want your tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. My prayer for myself and fellow Americans is that we would all be like the good Samaritan. Not forgetting the needs and responsibilities of “our own” but being sensitive and Christlike in our treatment of all people.

 

Father God I thank you for who you are

I thank you for your agape love

Father I ask that you would go into those places of our hearts that are hard and unlike you

I ask that you soften our hearts and allow us to love our neighbor as ourselves

I ask that we would become more Christ like in our walk as well as our talk

Lord I ask that help us to broaden our understanding of who our neighbor is

I pray that we would see each other the way you see us

And for those who are traveling for a better life I ask that you provide a hedge of protection around them and ensure safe passage.

In the mighty name of Jesus I pray

Amen

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