Mar 12:31 The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."
Jesus tells us that next to Loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength is to love our neighbor as ourselves. What a command. What if I did that? What would it look like in my life if I loved my neighbor as myself? And what does that mean really?
Is Jesus saying here that if my neighbor asks to borrow a lawn tool that I should give it to him because one day I may need to borrow one of his? Is he saying I am to treat him with respect because I desire that he too treat me with respect? But what happens if you can't get anything good from your neighbor? Let's say he or she is a jerk and you would rather not even see them let alone love them. Or maybe you live in the country and have no neighbors. Was Jesus talking about the guy who lives next door??? So many questions!
I think for me to understand this verse to its fullest I need to do two things. First, define neighbor. And second, what is meant by "love?" For me, I believe that Jesus is not just talking about a person in close proximity to you and your home. A neighbor is any man or woman in which we come into contact with regardless of place of origin, religion, or gender. A fine example of this would be the story out of Luke of the Good Samaritan.
If we are to count all people as our neighbor, that begins to change how we may relate to them. If the obnoxious guy in the grocery store now becomes our neighbor, I suppose this verse calls us to love him. If the homeless crack head woman on the corner becomes our neighbor then we need to love her. If the crazy Jr higher at church is our neighbor... well, you get the point.
Everyone we come into contact with, according to Jesus, is our neighbor. And if that is the case, what if we choose to love them as our self? What if...
So what is this love we are called to have for our neighbor? I can say I love someone, but often my actions are far from it. And how do I love someone I can't stand? That's a tricky one...
I think there are several aspects of love we are to have for our neighbor.
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by having compassion?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by sharing the Gospel?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by meeting needs?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by not condemning?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by not seeing race or gender?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by caring for children?
- What if... a Christian shows love for his neighbor by forgiving?
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