“We become neighbors when we are willing to cross the road for one another.” (Henri J.M. Nouwen)
“. . . in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (Philippians 2:3-4)
It truly is beautiful day in the neighborhood! I love our little community here on Fox Hill Lane. It’s a “Mr. Rogers” kind of neighborhood. Of course, I have a “Mr. Rogers” kind of husband, too. He is a living example of “looking to the interests of others.” In addition to all he does in the maintaining of our home and its grounds, commonly referred to now as the “golf course” by some of our neighbors, you can often see him caring for the lawn of a disabled neighbor, or watering for one who is away for a few days. You may find him driving someone to a Doctor’s appointment. Likewise, we often answer our doorbell to find a neighbor with a dish of some delicious creation that they thought we might enjoy. The other day, when I glanced out my living room window, what a joy to find our “across the road” neighbor helping John spread hay on our newly seeded back lawn. This morning he came home from his daily morning visit with our senior friends next door carrying a new pair of “Crocs,” his ”shoe of choice.” It was just something they wanted to do for him because they appreciate his help. So thoughtful! Did I say that I LOVE my neighborhood?
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus reminds a questioning man that he must love his neighbor as himself. The man quickly replies, “. . .Who is my neighbor?” Jesus tells him this story.
“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’ “(Luke 10:30-35)
Jesus then asks the man, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers? The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” (Luke 10:36-37)
Don’t miss Jesus’ reply here. The man was selfishly concerned with who he was going to have to love. How far would he have to go with this “loving” business? “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ reply, in short, is “Who was the neighbor?” He cares much less about us knowing our neighbor than he does about us being a neighbor. It’s a lifestyle, not an identification process. God has placed “neighbors” all around us, even if we’re hundreds of miles from home. We need to be more concerned with just being a neighbor. He has called us to a neighboring lifestyle. In answering that call, we honor Him. “. . . Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
May God open our eyes and hearts to those around us. Could Jesus be saying to you, “Won’t you be My neighbor?” Who will you “cross the road” for today?