Who is my neighbor?


If you are anything like me, you are fed up with the same forwarded posts on social media sites. When the Christian community finds a pop culture person of interest to disagree with, the open letters come out! Then there are the floods of fake news pieces, from untrustworthy sources, which seem to pop up everywhere. No Betty White is not dead (as of the time of this original post), I checked! 

If you are tired of reading about the Syrian refugee crisis, you picked the wrong blog to click on. I’ll do my best to keep this simple though. You can’t close this window if I tell you this post is about Jesus, can you?!

Take a moment to read a portion of Luke, chapter 10. (Don’t want to read the following passage? Enjoy this McGee & Me throwback: https://youtu.be/A8VRSFuFDGk)

The Most Important Commandment

25 One day an expert in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: “Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 Jesus replied, “What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?”

27 The man answered, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “Right!” Jesus told him. “Do this and you will live!”

29 The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

Parable of the Good Samaritan

30 Jesus replied with a story: “A Jewish man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road.

31 “By chance a priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. 32 A Temple assistant walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.

33 “Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. 34 Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. 35 The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins,[c] telling him, ‘Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, I’ll pay you the next time I’m here.’

36 “Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” Jesus asked.

37 The man replied, “The one who showed him mercy.”

Then Jesus said, “Yes, now go and do the same.”

This man who “showed him (the Jew) mercy” was somebody that a Jew would have gone to great lengths to avoid. The Jews despised the Samaritans, because of their beliefs and their mix with pagans. It may be extreme to say that Samaritans were the enemy of the Jews, but they typically didn’t associate with each other. Yet, Jesus clearly illustrated that the man who showed mercy was the man most like Him.

If this parable didn’t stir some kind of response, check out this challenge from Jesus, in Matthew 5:

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. 47 If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. 48 But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.

If the parable of the Good Samaritan left too much for interpretation, this command stated our responsibility clearly. We are to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. The fear of Muslims, Al-Qæda in particular, is common among believers and unbelievers alike. We act, or don’t act at all, out of that fear. We don’t want to be fooled. The cases of those who have assimilated to a culture for the purpose of future destruction has given us the ultimate excuse for remaining complacent. Instead of showing compassion, we choose to remain cautious. Does this sound familiar? To me, it sounds like the priest and the temple assistant which crossed the road. We say that we are being “cautious,” but really we can’t be bothered.

What should we be doing?

First of all, stop changing the channel when these stories come on the news. I know, sometimes they are too much. Do what you can to educate yourself about what is going on. Second, pray. Join the worldwide conversation by talking to the Father Himself. Prayer sounds like the easy answer, but it’s only easy if we merely SAY we will pray. Be honest. If you aren’t feeling burdened for these displaced people groups, confess it. Thirdly, give financially if you can. (http://donate.unhcr.org/international/syria)

Back to #1, watch this video for a little background:

It’s easy to discuss this situation with little empathy or concern for the effect our words have. If we had to endure such a hardship, we would certainly hope for the compassion and understanding of others. Most people don’t enjoy being separated from their family, fighting for inches of space on trains leaving the place they call home, hiking across deserts without supplies, and living in tents in a foreign country. If we were to insert ourselves in the parable of the Good Samaritan, would we be the priest, the temple assistant, or the Samaritan?

For news about refugees in Germany: http://www.leximcnair.com/dresden/

(photo source: the guardian)

One comment

  1. Pingback: Who is my neighbor? | leximcnair

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