Who is my neighbor?
That is the second question a teacher of the law asked Jesus. The teacher first asked Jesus: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” When Jesus put the question back to the teacher his answer was “You shall 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 your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 10:27) Jesus agreed. The teacher of the law then asked his second question. Jesus did not answer his second question. His response was the parable of the good Samaritan. The parable answered the question: “What does loving my neighbor look like?” or maybe “What is being neighborly?” The implicit answer in the parable to the question “who is my neighbor?” is: whoever God puts in your path.
The teacher of the law understood that loving his neighbor was a big deal so he wanted to limit his scope of responsibility. Loving is a big deal. Certainly loving your neighbor means sharing with him about the one who loves him more. But it also means showing up when she needs a friend even if she is completely unwilling to talk about Jesus. We do not love our neighbors so they can hear the gospel. Our neighbors will hear the gospel because we love them.
So, who are your neighbors? Can you love them like Jesus does? You can in the power of the Holy Spirit. When does the Spirit show up? When we pray. So here is a challenge. Pick a “neighbor” or two and pray for them for a month. Pray for their heart. Pray for their struggles. Pray for their needs. Pray for opportunities to learn about their struggles and needs. Then watch what God does. Then keep praying.
We are called to love God and love our neighbor. It is what followers of Jesus do because it is what Jesus does. Maybe your first step is to pray for Jesus to give you some neighbors. Remember, neighbors are people God puts in your path. Once you bump into them, continue praying for them by name.
My hope is that, someday soon, New-Lifers will be known as people who are actively loving their God and their neighbors. I pray that when the Glenside community talks about our church that they talk about how we are neighborly. I pray that when we stand before God, He will say: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” (Matt 25:35-36)
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