I have neighbors. I bet you do too. We’ve been in this house one year and I still haven’t met all my neighbors. In fact, I haven’t even seen some of my neighbors. I used to think that was an urban California phenomenon, but we experienced it in rural Texas too. Maybe it’s a sad sign of our times.
My Eternal Scheme Daily Word for today is Neighbor, so I’ve been thinking about all things related to neighbors and faith and, of course, the famous Love your neighbor as yourself verse (Matthew 19:19). I love what British writer and lay theologian G. K. Chesterton says about neighbors:
The Bible tells us to love our neighbors, and also our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.
Actually I don’t have any annoying neighbors. My next-door neighbor brings in everyone’s garbage and recycling bins on both sides of our street. He’s a retired pharmacist and is out there right after the garbage and recycling trucks come down the street. He starts on our side of the street, pulling our bins up to our back fences. Once our side is done, he crosses over to the other side of the street and brings those neighbor’s bins in. It’s a very thoughtful gesture for our older neighbors and the ones who are at work all day. I think many don’t even know who brings in their bins every week!
When Jesus was talking about loving our neighbor, he really was talking about thinking of our neighbors as ourselves. What would we do for ourselves? Then we also do that for our neighbor. Being a follower of Jesus is treating others with exactly the same care and attention as we would ourselves. Of course, as soon as we hear a something like this, we are already erecting barriers and creating exceptions to what we think Jesus really meant. Not a good idea to second guess Jesus.
Jesus broke down barriers: the barriers between humanity and God; the barriers between men and women; the barriers between slave and free; the barriers between neighbors and enemies. He showed us a new way to relate to one another, a way that was meant to eradicate any and all barriers between ourselves and others.
That’s a difficult concept to accept, much less implement. It’s not just thinking it through and creating a strategy for change. It’s a complete operating system upgrade. Let that percolate for awhile. There’s more where that came from (smile).