Love your neighbor…as yourself!
Who’s your Neighbor?
Welcome to Monday’s Mantra and to what I hope will be an eye-opening series on Loving our neighbor as ourselves and the Who, How and Why of Neighboring. Grab your coffee or favorite beverage and your Strand of Faith and let’s go tie some knots!
Let’s face it, when it comes to reaching out to our neighbors, those we know and especially those we don’t know, many of us tend to shy away for many reasons: too busy, shy, don’t want to get involved, I want to stay in my own space. I mean the list could go on, right, and justifiably so.
All of these were my reasons, aka, excuses for not reaching out to neighbors, let alone those whose path crossed mine and vice versa. I guess that’s why He had me help write this study; to get me to learn how to neighbor. Writing this has really revealed just how much of an introvert I am. I mean after a day’s hard work whether it be out in the field of court reporting or at the ministry office, all I want to do is come home and unwind and not see anyone…except for my husband and four-legged kids, of course! But His Word has been stirred in my heart so turn with me to Luke 10:25-37.
This parable is commonly known as the story of The Good Samaritan — which is where we get all other stories of today of others who go out of their way to do a kind deed and treating others as they would like to be treated. This portion of scripture is so rich with spiritual analogies that though written over 2000 years ago, they are still relevant today, only if we understand the significance found in the tiny details. So I will take us through verse by verse and break it down while bringing it back to us. I promise that each Monday will hold a mantra that you can carry with you in your faith journey.
First we need to know the characters, who’s all involved in this story? Well, obviously the one telling the story is Jesus and then there’s the lawyer who back in the day was considered an expert of the law (the Old Testament). Today, in our neighborhoods, this is the person whose spiritual knowledge has not made the 12” leap from head to heart, the one professing to be a Christian but whose lifestyle does not match their words…but we must not invade someone else’s spiritual space for only God has the video into each and every heart!
There was a priest who was a Levite, aka, a religious person who also lives by rules and is not necessarily motivated by love, maintains a great external appearance, mostly concerned about prestige and principles versus character development through the understanding and acceptance of the gift of grace. Oh, how many of us can be pious and critical of others today, especially of those in our neighborhood?
The robbers were the ones who exploited the unsuspecting man walking down from Jerusalem to Jericho – which is a stretch of road that most would not dare travel alone. It would be like you or I traveling down a dark alley in the streets of Los Angeles. In other words, the robbers, thieves represent those looking for trouble, those who stir the pot and prey upon those whom they deem less than…to bring this back to the 20th century, gossip is no different than robbing for its intent is to wound and steal from the heart of the one gossiped about!
The wounded guy left for dead is assumed to be Jewish because when Jesus told a parable, which is fiction with a non-fiction life principle/truth, He always had a role for the Jewish people. Scripture is replete with descriptions that identify just how special the Jewish people are to Him despite their disbelief, their rejection, their constantly doing the same thing expecting a different result. To summarize, Jesus/God describe the Jewish people as “a special treasure above all people,” Ex.19:5 A holy people chosen by God to be for Himself; the least of the people loved by God and brought out by His mighty hand, redeemed from bondage, Deut. 7:6-8 His people, He their God gathered after being scattered. Ezekiel 37:21-25.
In other words, we have ALL been the wounded guy left for dead; we have all rejected, had bouts of disbelief, and needed to learn things the hard way!
The innkeeper represents the one interested in making money, the one who will take any opportunity to do so and think about it later, in other words, a person who lacks the gift of compassion due to being blinded by a form of greed, great or small. We all have seen this in our lives and neighborhoods but if I’m honest, I have put financial gain ahead of compassion and more than once!
The Samaritan is the one Jesus used as the hero of the story, the one least likely to be the one to stop and go the distance because Samaritans back in the day were a sort of segregated people, a sort of half-breed culture that other people despised, made fun of and avoided, especially the Jewish people. They avoided the Samaritans like the plague! Oh, how true it is that Jesus does not call the qualified; He qualifies the called! In other words, he was considered “different.” Have you ever been segregated as “different,” or treated others that way?
So those are the main characters. Which one(s) are you?
Oh, Abba, make us more aware of our neighbors that we would learn to love them as ourselves and recognize that Jesus found us all worth dying for!