A few years back, one of my good friends wrote a book about loving our neighbors. I know, not an original idea, right? But it really is a very good book. Here is his basic idea…
Jesus tells a story in Luke 10:25-37 that we know as “The Good Samaritan.” The point of Jesus’ story is to highlight that our neighbor is most often the person right in front of us with a need we can meet. Jesus told this story to a religious leader who wanted to justify himself, who wanted to choose for himself who he might classify as a neighbor, thus making the command “love your neighbor as yourself” a bit easier to swallow.
In our culture we like to think of everyone as our neighbor. We love to focus, and rightly so, on how our purchasing power affects our neighbors who live in other countries and work to produce the items we wear or eat. And this is good! We do live in a global community. We are much more interconnected than most of us realize on a daily basis.
But we also live right next door to other people of whom we are not often aware or concerned. Here’s a quote from “The Art of Neighboring”
“ If we say, ‘Everyone is my neighbor,’ it can become an excuse for avoiding the implications of following the Great Commandment. Our ‘neighbors’ become defined in the broadest of terms. They’re the people across town, the people who are helped by the organizations that receive our donations, the people whom the government helps. We don’t have to feel guilty, we tell ourselves. After all, we can’t be expected to really love everybody, can we? The problem is, however, that when we aim for everything, we hit nothing. So when we insist we’re neighbors with everybody, often we end up being neighbors with nobody.”
As we’re studying through the book of Acts this year, and learning to participate in what Jesus is doing, I’d like to encourage us this summer, to continually make time and space to connect to our closest neighbors, the ones who live right next door or just down the street. These are the people we have the most opportunity to connect with just because they live physically closer than
One of the things I love about this is its practicality. It’s so easy to make the teaching of Jesus grandiose and just too far removed from our real daily lives. But our neighbors are just there, right next door to us every single day of the week. The process of beginning to actually obey Jesus with the people who live the closest, well that’s where the rubber meets the road in this whole following Jesus thing.
So here are three things you can try to do as we work to love our neighbors together:
So there you have it. Once again, what would it look like around the Twin Ports if everyone who called Duluth Vineyard their home was to recommit to obeying Jesus and loving their neighbors the way they love themselves? I think it could have a wonderful effect on our neighborhoods!
Very warmly in Christ,