“But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” vs. 29
The lawyer who came to Jesus had a pretty good understanding of what was required to inherit eternal life. He answered quickly, “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.” We would agree. These are the central commandments of the Law. But the lawyer had a follow-up question, and it’s a good one, one that is not so easily answered. “Who is my neighbor?” he asked, and that’s what we wonder too. We don’t always like our neighbors and it’s sometimes a stretch to love them. Like the lawyer we would like a clearer definition. Does it include refugees and rappers? Transvestites and red-necks? The homeless and alcoholics? The profane and unbelievers? There are a lot of people who we would welcome as our neighbors, but if some folks moved next door, we’d put up a “For Sale” sign. And so we ask the question, “Who is our neighbor?,” hoping that Jesus will offer us a loophole or two. Otherwise, this loving thing is just too hard–probably the hardest thing anyone has ever asked us to do. And if we can’t do it, do we miss out on eternal life? Those are hard questions–but that’s how life in Christ is–hard questions abound. And sometimes we don’t like the answers!
Thought for the Day: Who is our neighbor?