‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Social distancing is wreaking havoc on us individually and in how we go about loving our neighbors. We were made to be in relationship so to back up, like a turtle pulls his head into his shell, is so contrary to how God wants us to live. Jesus said in John 10:10 that “he came to give us an abundant life” and later in John 15 encouraged us in this way, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” I don’t know about you who are reading this post, but I can say feeling an “abundance and a joy that is full” is not easy to do these days. I wake up many days thinking, “another day, just like yesterday, and the day before. It is magnified as I see so many people enjoying family vacations and, because of my compromised immune system, we cannot. There is a daily choice to be made. Do I slip down into discouragement or choose to make the day a positive one by finding creative ways to love my neighbors? I have found that having a mindset toward acts of service keeps me from allowing my circumstances to defeat me.
The commandment to Love my neighbor literally means to go out and care for those nearby. This moves the exhortation not just to those who live nearby who may look like us or have the same type of lifestyle, but who come nearby as we move throughout our the day, physically or remotely. As I have shared before, even wearing a mask can be a way that we love someone who comes into our proximity. Bishop Claude Alexander in his sermon, https://livingontheedge.org/coffeebreak/july-2020/ says like the Good Samaritan, we need to be willing to not go around an uncomfortable situation. Instead, be called forward so that we go through and into that place. That way we can get close enough to see, feel, and understand what is happening, why it occurred. Bishop Alexander shares that “Seeing, feeling, and understanding will make us realize we must do something about the situation”
When we are moved to make a difference, what does it look like to love our neighbor? The practical application will look differently for each one of us and that is OK. One thing is for sure though. It starts with us getting out of our own comfort zone and entering into a place where we have never been before or haven’t been motivated to make the time. The first step for the Good Samaritan was to see what had happened. He then felt the person’s pain which made him understand he needed to do something. That something cost him physically, (he walked while the injured one rode on the donkey), financially (he paid for a room and for his care, and his precious time ( he cared for the man and then came back later to see if he was OK. What starts with being open to see and responding to others who have a need or just need encouragement. Here are links to three different ministries that started with people like you and me who got shaken into action. https://charlottesvilleabundantlife.org/ https://movementfoundation.org/ https://peaceprep.com/ I share these to show what amazing things can happen when people make the choice to love their neighbors.
Luke 10;36.37 answers the question, What does it mean to love your neighbor? When the expert in the law answered that the one who had mercy on the person who was robbed, Jesus simply answers, “go and do likewise“. As I thought about this blog post this week, this jumped in to my head. What if our love for each other was as contagious as Covid19? I am guessing your life will be filled with the abundance God promised and you will find yourself full of joy. Let’s go out this week and find out. 🙂