where love is alive 

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells The Parable of the Good Samaritan as an answer to a question presented by a man we commonly know as The Rich Young Ruler:He asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29b

A couple of weeks ago a construction team broke ground on the property next to where my house sits. Today it is just a foundation. But in just a matter of weeks a new home will be completed and on the market. In time I will have NEW next-door neighbors. So my question is: Who will my neighbor be? Of course, we hope folks who are friendly, gracious, and considerate will occupy this home. And we desire that they see these same qualities in us.

Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan teaches that being a quality “neighbor” has less to do with compatibility as it does compassion. In the parable, the most “neighborly” person to the wounded Hebrew man was not his fellow religious Hebrews, but the generous foreign Samaritan.

Our neighborhoods provide a mission field for us to live out our faith with compassion. Yet it is necessary that we know our neighbors. I confess that I fail to know all my neighbors as well as I should. Years ago I was approached at a local restaurant by a gentleman who I recognized but I could not remember how I knew him. (For the record, this happens to me frequently.) Often my strategy in such circumstances is to engage in light conversation, hoping (praying) that something will trigger in my brain to remind me how I know this person. But on this particular occasion I went ahead and confessed to the man that I could not remember how I knew him. He then told me he lived in the house across the street from mine! How embarrassing!

In our contemporary society we share less contact with our neighbors than in generations past. Thus, to know our neighbors, we must be intentional about meeting and building relationships with those who live around us. One of the things I like about this time of year is that my encounters with my neighbors increase as we all tend to be outside our house more, taking walks, working in the yard, or just enjoying the milder weather. If we are wise, we will use these opportunities to get to know our neighbors better. Improving our knowledge enables us with a greater capacity to show them compassion.

So, if anyone wants to live in close proximity to me, let me know and I will try to point you to the folks building next door. Otherwise, there is not much I can do to determine the kind of neighbor I will have. But I CAN do a lot to determine what kind of neighbor these new occupants will find when they eventually move in next door. Jay

Pastor’s P.S. – The Tour of Italy that Michelle and I are leading in March of 2014 has room for a few more folks before the registration deadline arrives. If you are interested in information about this great trip, please let me know.

 

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