Across the Pastor’s Desk: Reach out to your neighbors
Across the Pastor’s Desk by Jill Marin
It’s time to look out for our neighbor. We may be blessed with wonderful people who live near us. But, a neighbor goes far beyond who may live next door.
As recorded in Luke 10, Jesus taught to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Deut 6:5); and, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18). He said when we do these things, we will live.
Someone, wanting to justify themself, then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with what we now know as the parable of the good Samaritan. He tells of a man who was overtaken on the road by robbers who stripped him, took everything he had and beat him half dead. Religious persons and people of stature saw him, but passed by on the other side. One person stopped to help, bandaged his wounds, took him to an inn, cared for him and paid for his further care. Jesus asked which person was a neighbor to the man, and the answer was, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus said, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:25-37.
Who is our neighbor today? They may be someone we meet in passing, whether on the in-person or the virtual highway. They may work at a business we visit. They may be someone who lives near us or works with us. They may look and sound entirely different from us. They may even be our own family.
How can we show mercy to them? We can speak and act respectfully. We can smile, nod, or say, “Hello.” We can offer another to go before us. We can meet a need. We can offer the best of ourselves. We can look past outward appearances and behaviors and look for a point of connection.
With political, cultural and everyday stressors, it may seem neighbors are hard to find. We, at times, can feel very alone, and many people are hurting. Everyone is going about their own day, dealing with their own responsibilities and pressures in life. We may not take the time to consider someone else. Sometimes, things become so polarized that we feel we only have allies or enemies. We tend to accept everything allies may say, and reject everything from those we consider enemies. We can get caught into dragging names through the mud, calling names, assigning motives and even making accusations.
These are the times it becomes especially important to reach out and be a neighbor. We can reach out to someone who may have different views, show mercy, try to understand their message and find common ground. The good Samaritan and the wounded man shared the common ground of humanity. Don’t we all? My friend, it is time to look out for our neighbor.
Jill Marin is a pastor at Grace Christian Church.