But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29
Growing up our neighbors were like family to us. I remember when my parents would work during the day in the summer time, we would hang out over at the neighbors’ house. Being neighbors should mean something. And it did in Jesus’ day.
In the story referenced in the text in Luke 10 above a rich young man asks Jesus who was his neighbor. I suspect the reason he did is he wanted to find out all the people that fell under the command to “love your neighbor.” He would then love all those people and no one else.
You know it’s interesting for all of us, we have to answer that question – who is my neighbor? Who am I required to love, look out for, put myself in their shoes, not just give charity but share life with? Who is my neighbor?
One of the things I’m learning is that the more you seek to live a life of service, to imitate Christ, your neighborhood expands. Your neighbors aren’t just your church friends and school friends and people who have things in common with you. Your neighborhood includes everyone you meet.
I think Jesus wants us to break down the artificial dividing walls that keep us comfortable with an “us” and “them” mentality.
Small disclosure story to end this blog – my wife and I just came back from a cruise for our 9th anniversary. It was an exciting, relaxing vacation for us. But in the process, God expanded our neighborhood. We met two individuals who touched our hearts, our room attendant and food server. We listened to their stories about life on the ship.
We were convicted that our fun was supporting a system where people were being exploited. We found some neighbors on that ship and their pain became our pain and we can no longer look at things the same. Our personal conviction (which I’m not throwing on you) is that we will not do a cruise again once those conditions for cruise ship workers are in place.
Here’s my challenge to you – expand your neighborhood. Get to know people who you ordinarily don’t interact with. Answering the question “who’s my neighbor?” the right way, will change your life.