Friday, June 3, 2016

Who's Your Neighbor?

Remember the really cool dude that greeted us daily on TV, Mr. Rogers? Today, he'd have to come packaged as a rapper or be able to hip hop dance for us to think him "cool". BTW -- the word "cool" is still in -- I checked! Mr. Rogers sang this to us: "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won't you be my neighbor?" That was dear, Mr. Rogers! He made having neighbors one of life's greatest gifts.

In Luke 10, Jesus told the scribe ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself" and the scribe replied, "But who is my neighbor?" That's when Jesus gave His brilliant explanation in a parable about the Good Samaritan. What a story teller Jesus was! Mr. Rogers' stories were similar. He taught kids to love themselves and others.

But, hands down, Jesus took neighboring to a whole new level when he talked about the Jewish man who had been stripped, beaten, robbed and left for dead by bandits. A priest and another religious man saw him, but passed him by, but the Samaritan (enemies to the Jews) saw him and was moved with compassion. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he gave the innkeeper money and said, ‘Take good care of him. If you spend more than that, I’ll repay you when I come back.’

So, Jesus' answer to the scribe's question, "Who is my neighbor?" was answered when he said, "Go and do what the Samaritan did.”

Whew! In our day and time, that's a HUGE statement! It suggests that all of God's children must be our neighbors and we must love them just as the Samaritan man did! In this time of so much political hostility, biased opinions, questionable decisions being made about equality and what's right and wrong, I wonder if Jesus would still say the same thing today. After all, there is so much more to consider: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Buddhists, African Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians, the poor, the homeless, the unattractive, gays, lesbians, the handicapped, the mentally ill, and countless other groups are still sometimes the victims of ridicule, hatred and discrimination. Hmmm! So, the question is: "Jesus, who IS MY neighbor?" And somehow, I think He must be looking down and saying, "ALL MY KIDS are neighbors! After 2,000 years of Me telling you that.....nothing has changed in my record books. It's STILL 'Love your neighbors as you love yourselves!" L-O-V-E -- that's a 4-letter word to be AND do!