Do What?

What you must do is love your neighbor as yourself. There is no one who knows your many faults better than you! But you love yourself notwithstanding. And so you must love your neighbor, no matter how many faults you see in him. ~Martin Buber

“What’s wrong, Traci? Are you sick?” One of my favorite ESL students was concerned because my voice was gravelly.

“No, I just have a frog in my throat.”

“What? You have a frog in your mouth?” Her eyes popped wide open.

She’s a very good English student, but sometimes knowing and understanding are two different things.

In Luke 10, we meet a man who knew, but obviously didn’t understand. He asked Jesus how to inherit eternal life, and Jesus returned with, ‘What do you think?’

The guy gave a great answer:

He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27 NIV

Jesus told him that he hit the bullseye.

But there was a frog in his throat that he just couldn’t swallow.

Who is my neighbor?

He didn’t understand what he had so correctly quoted. He had heard it all his life, even thought that he had it right based on his confidence to answer Jesus so quickly, but he didn’t understand.

Love God and Love Others.

What about you? Do you understand?

Are you willing to loan your car to some people, but not to everyone? (This is not a driving record issue.)

Are you comfortable inviting people to worship with you but refusing to worship with them?

Are you able to forgive a stranger but not your former best friend?

Do you see the homeless man, the CEO, the single mom, the childless couple, the refugee, the different skin tone, the drug addict, and the preacher with the same eyes?

Jesus never gives an answer to the man. Instead he tells a story of overcoming fear and hatred to have mercy on another child of God. Then he says:

“Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:37 NIV

It’s time for us to do likewise as well.

 Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:18 NIV

Love Your Neighbor

picket-fences-349713__180“Geography has made us neighbors. History has made us friends. Economics has made us partners, and necessity has made us allies. Those whom God has so joined together, let no man put asunder.” John F. Kennedy

I have had great relationships with my neighbors over the years. Our first apartment was in a complex that served married students. Two doors down lived another couple from the school where Matt was attending and often in the mornings the other wife and I would meet for a cup of tea. We grew vegetables together in pots at the back door, had each other over for dinner, and just enjoyed each other’s company.

When we lived in the Philly area, our apartment complex was separated from another complex by train tracks. A seminary couple with a baby the same age as ours lived on the other side of the tracks. We would walk through the unofficial path that connected the two places and walk our babies together. After a while we started sharing babysitting dates. I took care of their baby on Friday and she took care of ours on Saturday so that we could each have a little alone time with our husbands.

In Arlington our back door neighbor had kids the same ages as ours and the path that was worn through the two fences became a rut, nearing ravine proportions by the time we moved. It was the fences in Arlington that drove me crazy.

So when we moved here I was excited to move out to the country where there were no fences, just open space. Two weeks after we moved in, the cotton field was transformed into a subdivision and I was devastated. But it didn’t turn out as badly as I imagined.

I have a wonderful neighbor who mows my yard when I am out of town, who weed eats my ditch, and cuts down stray tree branches. He is friendly and helpful, and for Christmas he delivered a bucket of home baked goodies. Two women in the neighborhood like to walk and chat, and one year for Halloween they brought me a homemade pecan pie. When Jonathan had a bike crash and cracked his skull, it was the people in that neighborhood who waited with me, took care of Amos, and came to visit the next day.

On our own lane, we have a neighbor that will go after our run away beagle, even tromping through muddy fields. The other neighbor has been a God-send time without number. She has kept our dog in her kennel whenever we couldn’t find a dog sitter. She and I have enjoyed many good conversations, prayer requests, and updates.

Having space and solitude are something I need. I enjoy time for reflection, and quietness is rejuvenating, but neighbors are needed. I need them to help with chores, with emergencies, and with spiritual direction. I need them to remind me that we don’t live in this world alone, and that is a good thing.

I love you, Neighbors.

“And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 7:39