“Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Jesus
What would happen if I made a serious effort to apply this to my life? What would change?
I guess I would want to know who is my neighbor?* In other words, to whom do I need to act neighborly? Give me some way to justify my actions and exclusions…please!
If Jesus were giving this parable today, he would have a whole bunch more characters from which to choose. Depending on the audience, he would use someone they would not expect.
I wrote a couple of examples and obviously erased them. My thinking is the list should be like a good monster movie. The monster is scariest in the imagination. So, imagine the story is being told to you. You can wholly and completely identify with the person getting beat up and robbed. Who would you like to see rescue you? Who is the last person or people group you would like to hear was the hero of the story? What’s worse, who is the last person you would want to have as an example to follow?
Maybe you don’t have a group of people in your mind, but I do. They live as caricatures in my mind. They live as the “other” or as “them”. This person’s image has been formed by my experiences, stereotypes, and other metaphors people have created for me so these people are easier to dislike, dismiss, and distrust.
Jesus would put that person as my rescuer in the story.
How utterly annoying!
If I listened, however, what would change in my attitude if I took the time to love my neighbor as I love myself? Would I hear and see the “other’s” in my life differently? Would it change the way I try to initiate change?
I think it would.
There is a lot in need of fixing in this world. Maybe it is too simple a thing to think I could start to change the world by starting to decrease the size of my enemies list.
Jesus, tell me the story again. Remind me: Who is my neighbor?