And behold, a lawyer stood up to put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” Luke 10:25-28 (ESV)
Jesus has commanded us to love God with all our heart, soul and mind and then to love our neighbors as ourselves. Many Christians these days believe the first commandment is important; they may say, “Yeah, I strive to follow Jesus every day. I read my Bible, I pray, I go to church on Sundays.” But the question we also should be asking is how well am I doing with the second commandment that Jesus gives us to “love our neighbors as ourselves”?
First of all, who is my neighbor? Are only those who believe the same way as me, my neighbor? Or does being a neighbor include all people? Jesus shares with this lawyer a story about who his, and our, neighbor truly is. Jesus shared how a man was traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho and ended up falling into the hands of robbers who stripped him, beat him and left him to die.
As he was lying on the road this man had three people pass by. One was a priest (a spiritual leader) who saw him and passed him on the other side of the road. Another traveler who saw him was a Levite (spiritual as well) who also walked on the other side of the road. The third person was a Samaritan (hated and outcast due to being interracial) came by and had compassion on this Jew, gave him medical attention, took him to an inn where he was taken care of and promised to come back and check on him. Jesus at this point asks who the neighbor to the Jewish man in the story was and we know it was the Samaritan man (Luke 10:29-37).
If we were to examine this story deeper, we would see that our neighbor is anyone we may come across and that we must love all people, not just those who are easy to love. Now, love does not equal agreeance. But we must still show Christ’s love to all people.
So, who is Jesus calling you to love even when it’s not easy? We may struggle as Christians for instance with what took place this last weekend, or maybe it’s something else you struggle with, but how can we show love to those who are as well created in God’s image (Gen 1:27)?
We should not agree with sin and we should not compromise the truth but how can we speak the truth in love?
Joe Glover is the pastor of Mountain Alliance Church and a member of Pastors United in Christ.