Elizabeth Bennett’s father in Pride and Prejudice was notoriously disengaged from the world in which he lived. He loved the quiet of his study and accepted the society of his neighbors only as a sort of entertaining study in human folly. He famously quipped, “For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?”
For most of us, our neighbors are people we view from a distance and love only metaphorically. We see them come and go, we view them from the window or through the privacy fence. We speculate about their lives, but often don’t know their names. Yet, Jesus taught that our love for our neighbor is cut out of the same cloth as our love for God.
In their book, The Art of Neighboring, authors Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon make an eminently practical observation.
Jesus said to love our neighbors. Sure, the teaching extends to our metaphoric neighbors – people everywhere in need. This extends to the people we work with, the parent on our kid’s soccer team, and even the person on the other side of the world who is in need of a meal. But it also means our actual neighbors – the people who live next door.
Jesus’ command takes us much deeper than most of us are willing to go. This was the case with a lawyer who came forward to test Jesus in Luke 10, asking ‘and who is my neighbor?’ After declaring that the law calls us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves, the lawyer no doubt sees that he in over his head. So he seeks to narrow the field to a manageable and comfortable size. Jesus takes up the lawyer’s question with a story about a merciful Samaritan and turns the question on its head from “who is my neighbor” to “who became a neighbor?”
“To whom are you a neighbor” is a very different question than “and who is my neighbor?” To whom are you a neighbor? God is already working in your neighborhood. Are you willing to find out how, simply by being a neighbor? Join us this Lord’s Day, November 5, as we consider the calling for us to be a neighbor from the story of the Good Samaritan. We meet from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in The Commons at St. Andrews Anglican Church at 8300 Kanis Rd in Little Rock. Click here for directions.
Come with a friend you and join us for fellowship and conversation. We look forward to seeing you there.