By: Rex A Lones
Relatives may care deeply for their family members but if they are far away, their ability to help might be reduced when calamity strikes! Old King Solomon said it like this, “Better a neighbor nearby than a relative far away” Proverbs 27:10
Who is my neighbor? That question was answered a long time ago by a man named Jesus of Nazareth. I could never “add to” what He said and don’t want to “take away from” anything He said. He said it best when He answered a lawyers question about who his neighbor was. It was recorded in Luke chapter 10.
This is where Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan and shows us the perfect example of a neighbor. The defining quality of a neighbor in this story is Mercy! The man in this story is attacked, robbed by theives, and left for dead. A man came by and helped him in his greatest hour of need even though he was a perfect stranger. Jesus calls that Mercy!
It’s clear that Jesus did NOT say these men were neighbors by physical location but by the expression of mercy or love given another. Jesus then told the lawyer that he needed to go and do the same thing for others. Seems to me that Jesus wants me to know that the mercy He gave me should be given to others. I think that’s my reasonable service to Him! I can make lots of neighbors that way and build a whole community of mercy givers even if we aren’t related by blood.
What can neighbors do for one another? Well lets say they see something dangerous close by. They can warn each other of the danger or be there to confront the danger together. What about child care when the need arises? What about searching for a lost child or pet? What about a ride to church for the kiddos? Sometimes it’s as simple as a phone call. The possibilities of serving your neighbor is endless! With the advent of the internet people can connect in ways never before possible.
Being in a relationship with others we call neighbors is not new, but has been an important issue since Old Testament times. These relationships are necessary steps for building community! When we are all acting as a neighbor, no-one lacks and everyone gets to be their absolute best. I like that!!! That’s the Way.
I believe that Jesus wants us to be aware of our neighbors needs and offer assistance every time we see the need. We may only be able to offer our prayers but at least it’s something. We can engage our neighbor in very simple but effective ways even when it is offered out of our own need. Those are actually the best offers we can make. They come from a pure heart that expects nothing in return.
“I guess that neighbors connect for two reasons according to scripture as I see it. First it satisfies God’s command to love Him first, out of which flows the second greatest command to love one another.”
It’s important to remember that our mercy should not just be reserved for our friends but also for our enemies. As a matter of fact, mercy is best delivered when it is given to those who least deserve it. Yep, that would be me! And you!
I think it’s time to reach out to our neighbors and offer them the gift of mercy in very specific and tangable ways. We can start by just connecting to them and getting to know them better. A once per week meeting is just not enough to really build a relationship. Even though most of us are always busy, we can find an hour a week or more to reach out to those around us
If I am not sure what my neighbor needs, all I have to do is ask! I think we will find that most requests will be reasonable and within our reach. It just takes a small amount of our time to make neighbors and build real community.#discipleship