One day, As I browsed through Facebook, I saw something that caused me to stop and ponder. The post contained a photo of someone’s tee shirt that announced “Love Thy Neighbor” and then listed many types of neighbors. I decided to research what the Bible said about neighbors. I found 40 occurrences of the word neighbor in the Bible. These 40 references talked about a variety of topics on neighbors, from helping our neighbors, to celebrating with our neighbors, to living peacefully with our neighbors.
Matthew 19:19 calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I found no asterisks at the end of that verse. It did not say to only love those neighbors you liked, or that had the same life style as you did. In fact, it did not say love only those with the same religion as you. It just said to love your neighbor, period. Our culture tries to offer us valid reasons not to love someone. These reasons center on the fact that we do not understand something about them. Or maybe we disagree with how they live their lives. We judge them unworthy of our love. The Bible speaks clearly on judging others as shown in Romans 2:1 “You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things.” God created everyone equal. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. So why in today’s world do we feel that we can hate some people and still call ourselves followers of Christ?
During one mission trips, I shared a neighborly love with some local people I met. This incident really put “loving thy neighbor” into prospective for me. I worked in Bolivia as part of a construction team. Sunday morning arrived and the team decided to attend a church in the center of town. This church ministered to the local homeless population of the city. We walked into the church and quickly took our seats. I observed most of those in attendance appeared to be homeless men. I also noticed that the men moved away from us as we sat down in the pews. I asked the pastor why they did not want to sit with us. She explained that the men worried their body odors might offend us so they moved away. Here I sat in their pew and they worried about my reaction to them, in their own church. I felt troubled by this. The team decided to show our love by making the first move. We each shifted to sit next to a one of the men. We worshiped together, we prayed together and we loved together. After the service ended, we helped the pastor serve bread and milk to everyone. It flourished into an incredible experience to sit together in church. I felt warmed by the Holy Spirit that day because we “loved our neighbors as ourselves” The congregation asked us to take a group photos of all of us together. We were one with them now. Once home, we sent copies of the photos to the church so they could remember us as we remembered them in our prayers.
Who is your neighbor? Who needs to feel the love of Christ today? What can you do different today to love all your neighbors with Christ’s love? LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. Love all people as Christ commanded.
May the Lord Bless you and keep you.
Matthew 28:19 “Therefore, GO and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”