25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” 27 He answered, “‘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, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” 29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 In reply Jesus said: “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. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 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. 35 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.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” 37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
This parable speaks directly to me today. Jesus is saying there is no limit to the concept of ‘neighbour’; I cannot put any boundaries around who I consider my neighbour. And my neighbour is worthy of my love and mercy. In fact, I am to love my neighbour as I love myself. This is half of my entire responsibility to God!
There are people I gel with, I may have just met them but we seem to have things in common that allow us to talk like we are good friends. Then there are people who hold such different assumptions about life and the way things are done, that they feel almost alien to me. Both are my neighbour.
Political opinion, religion, language, customs and culture – none of these are to be barriers to me living out half of my responsibility to God. If I follow Jesus there is no option.
“Lord, teach me and renew me to love my neighbour as myself”.
Written by Andrew Mellor